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Comment period now open to all

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:04 PM

County committee minority advisers — FSA County Committee (COC) advisers are a valued voice for underrepresented groups and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. County committee members and their county executive directors actively reach out to producer groups who are under-represented on county committees.

Eligibility requirements for COC advisor nominees include: Be actively participating in farming or ranching in the county or area; be willing and able to serve as an advisor, if appointed; and indicate in writing their willingness and ability to serve.

Duties and Responsibilities of COC Advisors include: Attending each COC meeting, including executive sessions; participating in all deliberations; increasing awareness of and participation in FSA activities, including elections, by eligible voters to ensure that socially disadvantaged group problems and viewpoints are understood and considered in FSA actions; helping to develop interest and incentives in socially disadvantaged group members for considering FSA work as a career; actively soliciting candidates from socially disadvantaged groups for nomination during the election process; and able to perform special duties at COC’s request.

Note: Advisors do not have authority to sign documents.

Interested individuals should submit a written letter that outlines their abilities and qualifications, as well as their willingness to serve to their local FSA Office. Letters must be postmarked by Jan. 20. The Huron and Erie County committees will review these submissions and recommend a minority advisor for the respective county committees to the Ohio FSA State Committee. The Ohio FSA State Committee will appoint the minority advisor, whose term will begin March 1. County committee advisors serve for a 12-month period not to exceed 9 consecutive years.

Interested individuals in Huron County should mail their letters to the Huron County Farm Service Agency, 8 Fair Road, Norwalk, Ohio, 44857. If you reside in Erie County you would mail your letter to the Erie County FSA Office, 2900 Columbus Ave., Sandusky, Ohio 44870.

n USDA reopens comment

period

For all producers who use variable or flexible leases, a change is coming on the rules for such leases as they affect participation in USDA programs. In response to public requests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has reopened the comment period on its proposal to standardize leases with variable or flexible provisions. The original comment period ended Nov. 27. USDA will now consider comments received through Jan. 17. Market trends and an increased use of flexible or variable cash leases make it necessary for USDA to review the current program rules. At issue is whether regulations governing whether a lease is considered “cash-rent” or “share-rent” for a USDA program purpose need to be revised or defined more specifically. This affects leases that have provisions under USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Risk Management Agency (RMA).

Current program rules do not prevent tenants and landowners from taking advantage of various types of leases to adjust to changing market conditions. However, the agreement between them, which has sometimes been an oral agreement rather than a written lease agreement, determines whether they have created a “cash-rent” or “share-rent” agreement for USDA program purposes.

But before taking any action, FSA and RMA will review the comments on the current rules governing “cash-rent” and “share-rent” provisions, especially examining variable and flexible leases.

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