The National Association of Farmer Elected Committee Members
Support NAFEC and encourage fellow COC members, office staff, and others to join us in our work to protect our industry, our community, and our life
James R. Little Scott Fancher
Administrator Farm Service Agency General Counsel, NAFEC
United States Department of Agriculture 8002 Wind Rock Lane
1400 Independence Ave., SW Harrison, AR 72601
Washington, DC 20250-0506
Dear Mr. Little:
I am general counsel for the National Association of Farmer Elected Committees (NAFEC). NAFEC represents locally elected farmers and ranchers who oversee the delivery of federal farm program benefits through Farm Service Agency (FSA) field offices. As you may or may not know, several states have recently suspended or severely curtailed FSA county committee meeting times. Unless we are misinformed, this has occurred because FSA has been paying committee members with temporary employee funding allocations rather than as permanent employees. Due to budget cuts, these temporary employee allocations are inadequate to pay for regularly scheduled meetings.
Please know that NAFEC strongly resents the implication that county committee persons are “temporary” employees. The characterization is insulting and misleading, especially when you consider that the local committee hires and supervises the FSA County Executive Director. We appreciate that the current budget environment has imposed significant challenges on FSA, however, we also understand that county committee expenses are a line item in the budget. Given that, we believe the use of these funds for purposes other than county committee salary and travel is improper.
NAFEC is very concerned with this development. We believe it impermissibly infringes on the authority of locally elected committees and frustrates their ability to perform a statutorily mandated mission. Consequently, we feel duty bound to protest the practice on behalf of our members. We have, thus far at least, been dissatisfied with the answers to our informal inquiries about the matter. Before considering other options, we thought it would be prudent to invite your input on the controversy and give you an opportunity to articulate the Agency’s position. We trust any such input or explanation will include citation to supporting authority.
Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to our concerns.
cc: Mike Johanns