As of today (1/24/18) we ARE working!! 🙂 After three days of a government shutdown, Congress finally passed the fourth Continuing Resolution for FY2018, which will go through February 8th, 2018. There has been no prediction of what is going to happen at that time. Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant, did send out a very detailed message of what will be deliberated and included into the 2018 Omnibus Bill. If you have not received that information, please contact your State President or Legislative Chair.
There have been many questions brought up to the Legislative Committee on the reorganization of FSA, NRCS and RMA. Originally, it was portrayed this reorganization was only affecting the top portions of USDA’s administration…i.e. Undersecretaries and who the FSA, RMA and NRCS administration reports to. However, since the original roll-out of the reorganization, it has been stated the Departments Leadership envisions county office staff (all agencies and functions) working together as one unit as opposed to stating their individual programs, which has legitimately brought many concerns to our association members on how it will affect county office employees.
Because of the concerns of our members, NASCOE President Dennis Ray and Vice-President Brandon Wilson recently had the opportunity to meet with Secretary Perdue and FPAC leadership to discuss NASCOE’s reorganization priorities. NASCOE’s ultimate goal is to work with the Secretary to address our staffing needs, and improve the county office structure/function. In addition, we are working to protect the county committee system and continuing local oversight of FSA programs. Both the NASCOE Executive Board and Legislative Committee, along with Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant, are working diligently to be proactive on this issue.
Also in Hunter’s detailed message (mentioned earlier) of what will be deliberated and included into the 2018 Omnibus Bill, he discussed the future of the Farm Bill. The House and the Senate are working towards reauthorizing the Farm Bill before September 30th, 2018 (the expiration date of our current Farm Bill). Depending on other issues happening, the House is planning to release the House Ag Committee’s draft of the Farm Bill toward the end of February or early March. If floor time becomes available to vote, they may even pass their bill by early spring. The Senate has not released when the Senate Ag Committee will begin the process. Today (1/24/18), at a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania, Secretary Perdue announced the Administrations Farm Bill and Legislative Principles for 2018. You can google “USDA Farm Bill and Legislative principles for 2018” and a bunch of information will pop up.
As always, I am available to assist with any questions or concerns members may have. Please feel free to contact me anytime.
MWA Legislative Chair