Commentary: Your opinion is requested again and again

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Are you getting tired of answering surveys and offering feedback for various entities? Me too. It’s called respondent fatigue, and it drives statisticians nuts because it often means that “sample units” (you and I) do not cooperate with information requests, which throws off results.

As tempting as it is to blow off yet another request for your input, it’s worth your while to strongly consider this latest request from USDA. That’s because lack of response by farmers and ranches is often perceived as a lack of need by agency leadership.

The agency wants public comment as it reviews existing program rules to determine whether any should be modified, streamlined, clarified, or repealed to improve access to USDA programs.

According to USDA, the intent is to minimize burdens on individuals, businesses and communities attempting to access programs that promote economic growth, create jobs, and protect health and safety. The review was directed by an executive order that was signed on Jan. 18.

"As we work to out-build and out-innovate the rest of the world, we must ensure that people across the country are able to access the critical programs and resources that USDA offers," says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The comments will allow us to hear directly from those who use USDA programs as we work to streamline rules in a way that improves access to resources intended to create jobs and grow the economy."

USDA initially intends to focus on Rural Development, the Risk Management Agency, the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service, all of which directly and indirectly affect your business.

The agency says is particularly interested in hearing from the public concerning areas where USDA can simplify and reduce the reporting burden for entry and access to USDA programs, while reducing its administrative and operating costs by sharing similar data across participating agencies.

You have until May 20 to comment. Offer input at: All comments received will be considered as USDA reviews its existing rules.

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Tammy Piotraschke    
Powers, MI  |  April, 28, 2011 at 02:17 PM

The current rules governing FSA programs are not administered the same in all states. I make this comment in regard to the fact that I have been involved in FSA programs in the states of WI and MI. A large part of this is the people serving the farmers in each of the offices I have worked with. One is way more farmer oriented and the other is more FSA employee oriented. If the intent of the programs is to serve the farmers to the max amount allowed by the law/program then all offices need to be more farmer oriented. Most farmers are not going to be adverse to supplying necessary information to someone who they feel is working for them. The office I am currently working with in MI takes annual crop report info and asks for a yield report at the end to each crop year and if their is a diaster designation checks if the producer qualifies based on yield already reported. In my opinion they are being efficent in how they are using the information that is supplied. If all offices used this type of system (the office in WI did not use this type of system)there is transparence and sharing of information between FSA and the crop insurance people.

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