Clay County Employees Go the Extra Mile to Ensure Successful Farm Program Delivery
USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) employees and agricultural producers alike passed a milestone recently: the deadline for selecting the new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs authorized by the Agriculture Act of 2014, better known as the 2014 Farm Bill.
FSA employees nationwide made a personal commitment to ensure that their customers were fully informed and that the application process ran as smoothly as possible.
As part of the education and outreach campaign launched by FSA in September, more than 5 million educational postcards, in English and Spanish, have been sent to producers nationwide, and more than 6,000 events with more than 440,000 attendees, including training sessions and speaking engagements, have been conducted to educate producers on making the best, long-term decision on how ARC or PLC coverage will benefit their respective agriculture operations – decisions that impact their business for the life of the Farm Bill.
However, anyone involved in the agriculture industry knows that it’s impossible to plan for everything, especially when Mother Nature gets involved.
Perseverance is a word synonymous with farming and persevere is exactly what FSA staff did when Mother Nature interfered with the ARC/PLC enrollment in Arkansas’ Clay County.
A Saturday in March was the test. Mary Small, program technician in Piggott, Ark., went to the office to get things organized and ready for the upcoming week. She was greeted as she entered the office with water covering the floor. Melting snow on the roof had caused a substantial leak above a desk where ARC/PLC paperwork was filed. She found the papers floating in water.
Clay County is located in the Arkansas Delta and according to FSA staff, the ARC/PLC workload was heavy and they could not afford even a short duration of “downtime.” Adapt and overcome was their only option.
So, Small, along with Marty Conley, county executive director, worked to clean up the mess and attempted to salvage ARC/PLC forms, applications and 25 pages of signed documents for six farmers.
The papers were laid out to dry and on Sunday, Rhonda Turner came to the office, picked up the wrinkled documents, and began to iron them. Her goal was to salvage the documents so they could again be placed in the files, saving the producers from a second trip to the office to re-submit and resign their documents.
“I’m a seamstress and I knew you could iron paper patterns, so I figured I could iron these papers too,” said Turner. “The damaged documents had original signatures and the short time it took me to iron them saved our producers from having to make another trip to our office.”
When word of Clay County FSA’s exceptional customer service efforts reached the National Office, FSA Administrator Val Dolcini was pleased, but not surprised.
“As I’ve traveled to various states, I’ve heard many stories of how staff has continuously gone the extra mile to make sure farmers and ranchers in their local areas are aware of the new farm bill programs and sign-up deadlines and I greatly appreciate everyone’s hard work, long hours and dedication to our customers, the industry and our Agency,” said Dolcini.
According to Dolcini, ironing paperwork in Arkansas is just another example of hardworking FSA staff members doing what it takes to get the job done to serve our nation’s farmers and ranchers