New gov’t computer database could help farmers reduce paperwork load

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BILL HARMON – FSA
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman has recently stated that farmers will soon benefit from a common-customer computer data base used by agencies in county USDA Service Centers.

The database, called the Service Center Information Management System (SCIMS), will help reduce the paperwork requirements for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs and will lead to customers being able to sign up for programs from their home computers.

These enhancements to the information system will lead to producers being able to access their individual records, apply for loans, and sign up for USDA programs from their personal computers or other remote locations.

“SCIMS is a major step to provide more convenience and quality service to agency customers,” Veneman said.

The first phase of SCIMS allows all USDA service-center agencies to share personal profile data of participants in USDA programs. This will eliminate the need for participants to provide the same information to multiple offices.

SCIMS also is a critical link to promoting a “common computing environment” in the centers and will serve as a foundation for subsequent phases of the project. SCIMS both supports and complements congressionally mandated, e-commerce
requirements that must be met in June.

Service Center agencies include the Farm Service Agency, lead agency for SCIMS, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Rural Development mission area.

Online users may want to access USDA’s FSA Web site to check out its major redesign. Producers can easily obtain county LDP rates and expanded program information directly. Technical assistance on using the Website and the OmniForms plug-in is available by calling 1-800-457-3642.

Producers will want to bookmark the site at www.fsa.usda.gov.

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