Tag Archives: County News

Don’t Forget!! January 1 – Scholarship & Award Deadline!!

With colder weather moving in it is a reminder that a new calendar year is coming quicker than many of us would like to admit.  I would like to remind our membership that January 1, 2017 marks the deadline for both scholarships and distinguished service awards (DSA).  There has been a lot of information posted on the MNASCOE and NASCOE website on how to apply for the scholarship or nominate someone for the distinguished service awards so if you have questions, those are great resources. The 2017 Awards and Scholarship Handbook has all the information needed to determine eligibility and how to apply.  However, in one more attempt to try to get scholarships and award nominations, here are a few simple steps on the process:

Scholarships:

1) Look at the NASCOE website https://nascoe.org/ under the “Forms and Downloads” then “Awards & Scholarship Applications” https://nascoe.org/forms-downloads/awards-scholarship-applications/ and determine which scholarship you would like to apply for/meet eligibility.  As a reminder, there are six different scholarships available this year and MNASCOE also offers one $1,000 scholarship for anyone who will be entering their first year of college through their fourth year.  By applying for the NASCOE scholarships those individuals that meet the eligibility criteria are automatically applying for the MNASCOE scholarship.

Here is the direct link to the application  https://goo.gl/forms/ObCh1tVHKQ89VUaO2

2) Simply follow the instructions on the NASCOE website and complete the online application form.  Two things that are important to note.

  • Pay attention to the suggestion about working on your answers to the scholarship questions in word.  The online application doesn’t allow you to save in the middle so once you start you must finish.  So, if you complete the responses in word first then you can copy and paste your answers into the online application once you have all of them completed.
  • Minnesota has for the last three years required the applicant to write an essay.  NASCOE is now requiring all applicants to respond to an essay question and Minnesota has decided to use the same question.
    By completing the online application, including the listed essay in its entirety, it is automatically meeting all the Minnesota application requirements.   

3)  Make sure you complete the application and hit submit.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Nathan Peterson by email at .

It is that easy!

Distinguished Service Awards (DSA’s)

In the recent newsletter, I also challenged our membership to submit at least 5 individuals for a Distinguished Service Award.  The process to nominate is extremely easy!  Once again go to the NASCOE website under the “Forms and Downloads” then “Awards & Scholarships Applications”.  Determine which of the three awards best fit your nominee, scroll down to the bottom of the page, click on the online application, complete it in its entirety and click submit.  It really is that easy so there are no excuses not to nominate an individual!

Here is the direct link to the nomination form https://goo.gl/forms/VjTuRhrfRFbtxSl93.

If you have any question on either process, please do not hesitate to contact Nathan Peterson via email at 

NASCOE News Flash: Creditable Service for Retirement

NASCOE Logo

NASCOE News Flash

Please take time to read this important email update. This is one of the most important legislative/management issues we have faced during the current Administration. To begin, NASCOE leadership has been working to reverse the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) decision and will continue until this decision is reversed. The information below has been obtained through multiple channels and provides the most updated information. In summary, a certain lawyer at OPM has declared that Public Law 85-568 (enacted July 1960) no longer applies to FSA’s county office workers. In effect, this means temporary time no longer counts toward retirement benefits. In addition, it appears that the Department of Agriculture is moving forward with OPM’s interpretation based on information obtained from FSA State offices. Please see the related documents below.

As recently as this morning, NASCOE President Wes Daniels visited with Administrator Dolcini about the impact of OPM’s decision. Administrator Dolcini and other USDA officials are working to rectify this situation. We are now significantly expanding our outreach and will work toward reversing this unjustified decision.

Creditable Service for Retirement Eligibility and Annuity Computation Purposes

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has recently reviewed and re-interpreted Chapter 20 of the CSRS/FERS Handbook to exclude temporary/non-deduction time with the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) as creditable service for retirement eligibility and annuity calculation purposes, even if a deposit application has been submitted and the deposit paid in full.

Chapter 20 of the CSRS/FERS Handbook states the following with regard to Creditable service:

“Public Law 85-568, enacted July 1, 1960, declared employees of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation (ASC) county committees to be Federal employees as of July 10, 1960, for retirement purposes. This law covered all ASC county committee employees except those specifically excluded by law or regulations (such as temporary and intermittent employees). However, an employee who separated before July 10, 1960, cannot receive credit for that service.”

Q and A:

What is non-deduction service?
Non-deduction service is service performed for which retirement deductions were not taken from your pay.

Who should I contact with questions about my temporary/non-deduction service?
Employees should feel comfortable contacting either their employee association or John Palmer with questions or concerns related to their temporary/non-deduction service.

Who has been made aware of OPM’s interpretation?
It is our understanding that the USDA’s Office of General Counsel (OGC), FSA’s Human Resource Division (HRD), FSA Administrator and Deputy Administrator Offices, as well as the employee associations (WASCOE/NASCOE) are aware of OPM’s interpretation. Further, we understand that OGC is actively pursuing a favorable re-interpretation of the law to include temporary/non-deduction time as creditable for retirement eligibility and annuity calculation purposes.

Who is affected by OPM’s interpretation of the CSRS/FERS Handbook?
OPM’s interpretation, as stated above, applies to individuals under the FERS retirement system with ASCS temporary/non-deduction service performed prior to January 1, 1989 (FERS employees were not previously allowed to pay a deposit for temporary/non- deduction service performed after 01/01/1989 – this period of service remains ineligible for a deposit). OPM’s interpretation would also apply to individuals under the CSRS/CSRS-Offset retirement system with temporary/non-deduction service with ASCS (pre or post 01/01/1989).

What do I do if I am planning to retire in the near future or think I might have temporary/non-deduction time with ASCS?
At this time, the Wisconsin FSA Human Resource Team is asking that you review your service history for such periods of temporary/non-deduction time that were previously considered creditable (pre 01/01/1989 for FERS employees and all non-deduction service for CSRS/CSRS-Offset employees). If you have these types of service you can contact John Palmer, Administrative Specialist, to review your service history with/for you in an effort to help you understand the full impact of OPM’s determination. If an employee does not meet retirement eligibility without including temporary/non-deduction service, HR is advising that you do not retire until such time that an official determination (re-determination) is issued by OPM or retirement eligibility thresholds are met without including temporary/non-deduction service with ASCS.

What if I paid a deposit and OPM has accepted the deposit and issued a “Paid-in- Full” invoice?
At this time, it is our understanding that OPM accepting your re-deposit does not entitle you to service credit for the non-deduction time. This determination would be made by OPM when finalizing your retirement annuity. If OPM upholds their current interpretation, it is HR’s understanding that you would be allowed an opportunity to request a refund of your service credit deposit. OPM would refund your deposit paid with annually compounded interest from the date of deposit. At this time we are not recommending that you request a refund of your paid deposit in case OPM’s interpretation would be reversed.

What will happen to those individuals who have already retired and who have temporary/non-deduction service with ASCS?
We are not sure yet how the pension will be affected for those individuals who have already retired and who have temporary/non-deduction service with ASCS.

What happens if I retire and it is later determined that the temporary/non-deduction service with ASCS is creditable for retirement purposes?
Upon retirement OPM becomes your servicing personnel office. We encourage you to track this issue via employee associations, news outlets, OPM website, etc. Contact OPM when/if any development occurs. In addition, your Wisconsin FSA HR Specialist will be manually tracking the names and Civil Service Annuity numbers for all individuals who retire who have temporary/non-deduction service. If OPM’s determination is reversed the HR Specialist will provide this information to OPM in an effort to have the annuity re-calculated.

 

Agweek: Deadline nears on key ARCPLC decision

Kelly Turgeon, executive director of the Kittson County, MN Farm Service Agency, explains details of two key safety-net options in the federal farm bill. He talked with producers at an ARCPLC informational meeting March 24 in Hallock, Minn. (Jonathan Knutson, Agweek)

Kelly Turgeon, executive director of the Kittson County (Minn.) Farm Service Agency, explains details of two key safety-net options in the federal farm bill. He talked with producers at an ARCPLC informational meeting March 24 in Hallock, MN. (Jonathan Knutson, Agweek)

Kelly Turgeon is on the stretch run of a half-year marathon. Turgeon, executive director of the Kittson County (Minn.) Farm Service Agency, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is working to help farmers meet a crucial March 31 ARCPLC deadline. They’re choosing between two important safety-net provisions in the federal farm bill, and their irrevocable decision will impact their bottom line for the next five years.

 

Read the Full Article on Agweek.com:
http://www.agweek.com/event/article/id/25397/ 

Mora Service Center Celebrates Ag Day

Ryan Brunn, CED shown reading the book Tops and Bottoms to class for Ag Day Celebration

Mora Service Center staff celebrated National Ag Day one day early on March 17, 2015 by visiting Fairview Elementary School’s 1st and 2nd graders. Over 300 students enjoyed learning about farm animals and crops, farm safety, and recognized our area farmers and all they provide.

FSA employees shared their passion for agriculture through a question and answer discussion, a children’s story – Caldecott Honor Book, Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens – read by Ryan Brunn, CED, live Phoenix chicks – raised by Tanya Lundeen, PT, and singing “Farmers are the best, best!” song – led by Julie Kolodji, FLM. Happy National Agriculture Day!

Julie Kolodji, FLM leading students in the song, "Farmers are the best, best!”

Julie Kolodji, FLM leading students in the song, “Farmers are the best, best!”

An image of a thank you note from student.

A thank you note from student

Ryan Brunn, CED shown reading the book Tops and Bottoms to class for Ag Day Celebration

Ryan Brunn, CED shown reading the book Tops and Bottoms to class for Ag Day Celebration

Live phoenix chicks raised by Tanya Lundeen, PT

Live phoenix chicks raised by Tanya Lundeen, PT

Ryan Brunn holding a live phoenix chick raised by Tanya Lundeen, PT

Ryan Brunn holding a live phoenix chick raised by Tanya Lundeen, PT