FSA Process Facts

It is unclear exactly how the process begins.  What eventually happens is that the INTEGRATOR (chicken owner) and PRODUCER (farmer) agrees on a business arrangement.  A Bank loan officer begins the process by collecting and supplying required information to the Farm Services Agency (FSA) including an application for a direct or guaranteed loan.

  • The banking institution (at the direction of the FSA or optionally by the FSA) places a Notice of Availability (NOA) ad in the Legal section of a local newspaper stating that a Draft EA is available for review and comment at the FSA office or available on line at the given URL.  The notice should include the comment period and be published twice in the local newspaper (if the paper is published daily, two consecutive days, if weekly, conservative weeks).
  • The Draft EA may contain any or all of this information and/or additional information:
    1. Letter(s) sent to and a reply from the USFWS (United States Fish and Wildlife Service).   The FSA letter researches what endangered species are in the area of the proposed project and makes a determination of the affects, which also requests concurrence from the USFWS of their determination.
    2. Letter(s) sent to THPO (Tribal Historic Preservation Officer) requesting a reply within 30 days if they wish to consult on this project (what usually happens is time is expired without a reply).  There could be replies as well from the THPO.
    3. A copy of the letter sent to the SHPP (State Historical Preservation Program) to request concurrence of no significant impact to any historical places from the installation of the CAFO.
    4. A copy of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) permit to construct which only covers the actual construction of the structures and ground disturbance to protect against rain runoff, designating a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) that will be followed.
    5. Flood Zone determination usually is included in the Draft EA.
    6. Wetland Determination, form FSA-858 is prepared and signed by the FSA officer.
    7. A draft/final BA (Biological Assessment).
  • The FSA State Environmental Coordinator will make a determination to approve, deny, or approve with additional mitigations:
    1. The intent of NEPA is to protect, restore, and
      enhance the human environment through well informed Federal decisions.”  This is the standard set forth in the Draft EA and as such the FSA is required to fulfill the intent of this statement.  It is within this statement any and all comments need to be measured by the FSA, and what the comments should be focused on.
  • All written comments will be carefully considered, and no action taken until the agency has completed an environmental review and issued a final decision. All who provide written comments will be informed of the decision when it is made. The Final Environmental Assessment will be made available and underlying documentation may be examined upon request.”  The Draft EA comment period is the public’s only opportunity to be heard.  There are no second chances, which requires that the public thoughtfully and carefully anticipate any and all issues which could arise from the installation going forward.                       To find information on Comments, look under FSA Process Facts and click on Commenting on FSA Draft EA (Environmental Assessment).
  • This process is not very transparent.  Comments can be ignored, making the process and responses subjective.  An example might be smell, which may not be against the law and no response will be delivered to the commenters other than it’s not against the law.
  • FSA issues a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) public notice which may be placed in the Legal section of a local newspaper by the Bank (which may be initiated or done by the FSA).  With the recent changes in the processes, this step has not been seen and therefore not experienced in order to say what will happen.