John Nidlinger, Decatur, resigned as director of the Indiana Farm Service Agency, officially leaving the post on April 1. After five years of service to Indiana FSA, the Adams County farmer resigned to return full-time to his family farm operation.
Steve Brown, Pine Village, was just named as Acting State Executive Director for FSA. A past county FSA director, first in Porter County and most recently in Carroll County, Brown spent the last several years working as communications manager in the Indiana FSA state office. Through that role, he has been exposed to all of the various programs administered by Indiana FSA, including farm program payments, conservation programs, grain loans and farmer loan programs. His FSA career includes 23 years of experience. He is also part of a family grain farming operation in Tippecanoe County.
Nidlinger's departure came at a crucial time, meaning the acting executive director role is a key slot. Local offices are implementing digitized farm maps. Some counties are finished, a few have yet to start. The goal is for all counties to finish this project yet this fiscal year, ending Sept. 30.
Office closures are also on the table. While Secretary of Ag Mike Johanns tabled nationwide efforts to overhaul FSA's county office delivery system, Nidlinger began the process of studying alternatives before he left his post. He cited severe budget limitations as making change necessary, and hoped to consolidate certain offices to improve efficiency, yet maintain reasonable service for farmers. Those efforts are expected to continue, even though Nidlinger is no longer in charge. Relocation involves cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and other ag partners, since offices are currently co-located in many counties.
Brown is a proponent of expanding use of Internet services for FSA. He has demonstrated how they work by using some of these services in his own farming operation. He's also encouraged other farmers to request LDPs or now even sign up for the farm program via the Web. Brown also continues to help troubleshoot electronic delivery when problems arise, and notes that both delivery and number of participants are headed upwards.
No timeline for naming a permanent director has been given. Procedure calls for a candidate to be nominated by the senior member of Congress from the state whose party is in power. That means it's up to Senator Richard Lugar to select and submit a nominee for approval.
Keep watching for updates on FSA and its programs both here and in Indiana Prairie Farmer.