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Discussion forum for the various methods and structures used for getting an early start on your growing season, extending it for several weeks or even year 'round.

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Old September 30, 2016   #91
PureHarvest
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Cole what agency are you dealing with?

If it is an NRCS grant, the link I posted is the most updated standard. You'll see its for Illinois and dated September 2016.
It does not matter if it is the Conservation District or and NRCS employee as the planner, the same rules and processes still apply.

If the planner/inspector signs off that the work was completed and done according to standards, they can not come back later and make you pay it back.
There are so many levels of planning/mapping/implementation sheets/operation and maintenance, and document review that the applicant does not see that is supposed to make the contract bulletproof for both sides. Once a contract is signed, no less than 3 officials higher than me review all contracts before the contract is obligated (made active and binding).
Once signatures are made and you complete the work AND they sign of on your payment when it is complete, it is an admission that the work has been completed correctly, or they wouldn't pay you.
Bottom line, payment to you=them acknowledging the work was completed and up to standards. If for some reason they came out to do a spot check (our state spot checks 5% of contracts each program year) you have nothing to defend because their inspectors signed off on it and paid you (again, inherently meaning you did the work according to standard). What it does mean is that the planner and inspector will have some major 'splannin to do and will catch heat.
I am surprised that they would approve a home made design, unless your existing one was done so well that he really thought it was a purchased kit.

I can't tell you how many planners I meet that have no clue about 75% of the programs out there.
If they don't really care and are just pushing through whatever they can just to make their job easier, I could see that. It requires much more thinking, paperwork, phone calls to you etc to do the contracting the right way.
Good planners are the exception more than the rule IN MY REGIONAL EXPERIENCE.
Also, the smaller counties or offices just don't do that many contracts overall, so they have limited experience and practice in the whole process, which leads to them just winging it without ever really understanding what to tell the producer. He/she could just be making it up as they go along because they never really studied the Practice Standard or asked anyone in the office questions.

Last edited by PureHarvest; September 30, 2016 at 07:19 PM.
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Old September 30, 2016   #92
PureHarvest
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As far as your fraud example, what rate are they paying per sqft, and how big is your tunnel? As long as those two are calculated correctly, you should be good.
If you have a 2,500 sqft that you are proposing to build and the pay rate is $3/sqft, your payment should be $7,500. If they pay you $10,000, then that is incompetence beyond a level I can fathom for an NRCS field office. If so, the district coordinator AND state program manager should be fired, and the state conservationist would probably be transfered.
You just can't make that mistake and have made it to those levels of the organization.
If there would be a mistake, they can't make you pay that back. I know of some honest small mistakes that were made in the producer's favor and they could not ask for the money back. It is a binding contract that both parties sign, and the acres/sqft/linear feet as well as the payment rates are clearly layed out in the contract folder that both parties sign along with about 5 -10 other documents that clearly spell it all out. Once you are paid, the contract is satisfied. Actually, once you sign the contract, I don't think they can do anything, because both parties agreed to the terms.
I can't stress enough how much paperwork and documents go into the process to try and prevent any issues from causing the exact scenario we are talking about.
I will say that the planner still can screw the NRCS by neglecting to administer the plan correctly, or by falsifying the numbers he plugs into the system/plan/contract, but I wouldn't personlly sign a contract for a 3,000 sqft tunnel when I applied for a 2,500, if that was the case for example.

Last edited by PureHarvest; September 30, 2016 at 07:35 PM.
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Old September 30, 2016   #93
greenthumbomaha
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I made a phone call to NRDC offices in two different counties. I own property in one, and my growing partner owes property in the other, so it was information only. Both officers I spoke with corrected the deadline and other details that I was told at the sustainability conference I attended last month. The correct deadline for Nebraska property is Oct 21.

The maximum AGI income is $900,000. We both meet that requirement. That is one of 11 questions on the application

The site must currently be producing. It can be vegetables or grass/hay, etc. You need not have sold $1000 on a prior year.
There is no known funding for irrigation, or at least the officer never heard of one in his county. He was knowledgeable in different irrigation techniques. He vaguely remembered something about a pivot somewhere else.

You need not own the property, just have control over it.

Payment is per square foot.

There are different application requirements for businesses and individuals. For example, an LLC would need additional paperwork and a Dun & Bradstreet report.

The FSA must issue a farm tract number first, as it's a key entry on the NRDC application. There was also one other certification that I didn't catch. It is a complicated process that takes at least two weeks, and they only process this on two days of the week. A site visit and aerial photo are part of the process. The potential high tunnel site is carefully selected and documented. I was not sure of this function is performed by FSA or NRDC.

That's all I could gather from our short phone conversation. I called on the last day of the fiscal year so they were busy. It was always a hectic day for me in MIS so I offered to call again.

- Lisa
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Old September 30, 2016   #94
Cole_Robbie
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I wasn't the one handling things, so I can ask more questions when I get a chance.

I did read that there is a list of "approved" manufacturers of kits. I would think that the local agent would not have the authority to proclaim 'I dub thee approved,' but that's just a guess.
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Old September 30, 2016   #95
PureHarvest
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Lisa, the NRCS agent will do the site inspection for the tunnel and handle the application, screening, ranking, and hopefully what will be the contract if you are pre-approved (you outranked other HT applicants).
FSA here does not do anything at the site, just uses aerial photos plus whatever papers you have showing ownership of the land to draw the boundries on their mapping system to create your Farm and Tract. You then will be added to the Producer Report so when the NRCS agent looks that up, it shows that you officially have a Farm and Tract # and that you have control of the land. Other than AGI, I can't think of what else you'd need at this stage other than maybe a w-9 (tax payer id request). Eventually you'll need a direct depost form filled out too.
By all means, sign up as an individual. Much less paperwork.
Everything you mention is correct. You spoke to good agents. I am not sure what else FSA needed.
It's really not that hard for the producer when you see the other side of the process. Just give them what they ask for by the deadline and you'll be golden.
Irrigation is usually for the big guys that are upgrading old pivots, and even then I sense that is very regional specific.
Wells, pumps, and plastic pvc pipes are more common, but every state decides on what the eligible practices are.
We have a micro-irrigation practice that is specific to driplines for hightunnels. It pays less than $200 bucks.
They may not do "irrigation systems", but I would have guessed they'd pay for 1 or 2" pvc to run water from an existing well to a field.

NE has the micro system, but your county might not list it as an eligible practice. https://efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/refer...c/NE/NE441.pdf

Last edited by PureHarvest; September 30, 2016 at 10:53 PM.
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Old November 5, 2016   #96
Cole_Robbie
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I did finally talk to them, and yes they got the grant money, check cleared and all. They ended up building two identical high tunnels, because they had started the first one before they applied for the grant. The plastic is on the 2nd one, but not the first, which is pictured below. I was trying to take a pic of both when my phone died before I could snap a pic of the second.
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