Usually by January 30th of each year, members would be busy making plans for travel to zone meetings. To say the least, 2019 has been different, unique, crazy, unpredictable. As I have told many, many members, we are traveling in uncharted waters.
During the time we were off for the shutdown, the NACS-FSA Board has been continually communicating with each other. We have thrown around several ideas and discussed each of them. We have asked members for their input.
It is with an extremely heavy heart that we need to announce that we will be cancelling the Zone A meeting planned for Las Cruces, NM and the Zone B meeting planned for Wichita, KS. With the timing and workload overflow from the just ended furlough and the uncertainty of another furlough possibly looming, along with the input from our members, it was decided that this one time action is necessary. Members will be receiving refunds of the registration funds they may have submitted for the meetings.
With every cloud comes a silver lining, right? There is good news that comes with this sad turn of events. First, we are planning on this being a one time only cancellation of these very important meetings. Second, each of the host states was able to have positive discussions with the host hotels and will bear no financial hardship because of the cancellation. Third, each of the host states - New Mexico and Kansas - are very willing and planning to host the zone meeting in 2020! This is so awesome! As always, we want members to address concerns to their Zone Representatives and to submit resolutions through the NACS-FSA website.
We want to encourage members to attend the combined Zone C and D meeting in Chattanooga, TN on March 7-9, 2019. At this time, we fully plan to have this meeting. So send in your registrations soon. Stay tuned and any updates will be posted to the NACS-FSA website.
Additionally, please mark your calendar now and plan to attend our national convention in New Orleans, LA on June 22-27, 2019. Since we won't see many faces at zone meetings, we definitely want to see you at the convention. Very soon we plan to post information about the convention on the website. Be sure to check it often!
Please know that the entire NACS-FSA Board did everything within its power to have the Zone A and B meetings. Doing this one time cancellation just made the most sense. If you have any questions, please contact any of us.
Based upon news reports, it appears that the President and Congress have reached an agreement to pass legislation that will re-open the government and keep agencies funded through February 15. While this is not a full appropriations measure, the Continuing Resolution is certainly good news for furloughed Federal employees.
In the Rose Garden address, the President said that Federal employees who have been without pay will be paid "quickly or very soon". This is also great news. Mr. Trump praised employees for their dedication. Please know that NACS-FSA will continue to watch this situation.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Have a great weekend.
The Presidents and Vice Presidents of the employee organizations (NACS-FSA, NADD, NASE, NAOFEC, and NASCOE) were on a conference call with the Administrator and his staff from the National Office late this afternoon (January 22, 2019). We were updated on the call back of FSA employees to provide program services to our customers.
We were told that FSA employees were changed from a "non-excepted" status to "excepted on call" status under the guidance of OMB to provide available program funding to our customer. This work was determined to be necessary to avoid an impact to the producers and maintain the integrity of the program while protecting government assets and property. For those employees who have chosen to seek unemployment compensation during this period, the National Office is having more calls tomorrow to see how this call back may or may not affect this benefit.
The news release has been issued by the Secretary's Office to notify producers that our offices will be open to provide greater, yet still limited, services. We were told that support services would be available to us through the Business Center, National Finance Office, and KCMO. However, the services of OCIO/CTS were a bit uncertain.
I specifically commented that FSA employees are dedicated to providing service to our customer but this call back to work without pay was creating an undue hardship on many of our employees in the form of commuting costs, day care, and routine work related costs. I truly believe that Mr. Fordyce recognizes the strain this is creating and the sacrifice employees are making and he is directing state offices to provide guidance to local managers to be as flexible as possible during this period. He stated that, while employees are needed at work to provide coverage in the offices, no employees can be charged to take leave during this furlough period if they have appointments or schedule conflicts that will cause them to be away from the office.
As I have said before, I fully recognize and appreciate your hard work and dedication. LeAnn and I voiced our concerns and will always be your advocate. This is not great for anyone and know that we are in your corner. Please contact us if you have any questions.
Let me begin by giving each of you a HUGE thank you!!!! Your willingness to come in for the past couple of days and into next week is such a testament to your commitment to rural America. You should all be very proud of yourselves and your staff. I know that I am very proud to be a part of this selfless group of employees.
OK - so what do we know? At this point, not much more than you can read in the paper or see on TV or the internet. We are entering week 5 of shutdown and the best news that we have is that legislation has been signed that will provide us with back pay when we do return to work. If there is other news coming from USDA sources, we have not been included in the correspondence.
Please be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook page. Our media group is keeping it as updated as possible with the latest reliable information when we know it. While we want to provide as much as we can, we are going to be absolutely sure it is reliable, certain, and truthful before we post it. .
Be assured also that our Legislative Committee has their ear to the ground on this and will post information as soon as they know it or can confirm it.
Thanks again for all that you do. As always, please reach out to me with any thoughts or questions.
Patience. Patience. Patience.
As we enter into the start of the third week of the government shutdown, we have all had patience in one form or another. Let us hope that the Democratic process plays out quickly so we can get back to the business of serving America's farmers and ranchers.
Business Item #1
Get registered to attend a zone meeting. If the meeting in your area does not fit your schedule, consider a new adventure and attend elsewhere. I will be at all three meetings and look forward to see lots of faces - new and old.
Business Item #2
If your state is not current on your dues, please submit them to the Treasurer. Each state president or their representative is eligible for some reimbursement to attend the zone meeting but your state must be current on dues to receive it.
Business Item #3
Submit resolutions. Simple. Let's work to make our programs better.
As always, please reach out to me with any thoughts or questions. It continues to be my honor to serve you.
LeAnn is a Farm Loan Chief from New Mexico. She was elected NACS President at the June 2019 Convention.