Thursday, March 01, 2007

FSA having Computer Problems

The Farm Service Agency has been having some computer problems as of late. The system used to make farm payments has broken down and now USDA Secretary Mike Johanns is asking Congress for some help to fix it.

Johanns did not mention the computer problem in his formal testimony on the FY08 budget before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. But he did
respond when Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Robert
Bennett, R-Utah, noted that he had been receiving complaints from farmers who
had been told they should attempt to use the FSA computer system only at certain
hours. Bennett added that he assumed Johanns has a plan to deal with the problem
since the administration did not ask for money to address it in the budget.
Johanns told Bennett that he was going to have to ask for "help" with the
computer system. "Does 'help' mean money?" Bennett asked. "It always does in
government," Johanns replied, adding that within three weeks USDA would make a
"business case" for its request.

Local FSA offices are having to deal with the problems and that means delay's for farmers.

Area Farm Service Agency officials say they’re working to fix computer problems
that slow service to farmers.
“It’s gotten better in the past few weeks,
though there are still delays,” said Wanda Garry, executive director of the Clay
County Farm Service Agency.

Members of the Senate Ag Committee asked about the problems.

At a hearing Tuesday, Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, asked why the department hasn't
requested money to fix the problem.
Johanns said he is still trying to find
the cause of the problem and will have a plan to address it in the next three
"Over time, a lot has been added to this system, and maybe not at
times enough money," Johanns testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee's
agriculture subcommittee

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