IFAS Internal Management Memoranda

IFAS; Regulations for Florida Cooperative Extension Faculty

EFFECTIVE DATE: December 1, 1993


SUBJECT: IFAS; Regulations for Florida Cooperative Extension Faculty

Notes: Sections 1 and 2 are excerpted from Chapter IV of the Administrative Handbook for Cooperative Extension Work, USDA and Section 3 is excerpted from Chapter IX of the same publication.

  1. Relationships With Farm Organizations

    The following are excerpts from the United States Department of Agriculture Regulations on Employee Responsibilities and Conduct concerning United States Department of Agriculture employee relationships with general farm organizations:

    1. Definition - The expression "general or specialized organizations of farmers" is intended to cover such national, regional, or State organizations as, among others, the National Grange, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Farmers' Union, the National Association of Soil Conservation Districts, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Breed and Commodity Organizations, and their regional, state, and local constituent groups. The expression "general or specialized organizations of farmers" is not intended to cover organizations such as cow test associations and similar groups.

    2. Policy - It has long been the established policy of this Department that its employees shall refrain from participating actively in meetings and in other activities concerned with the establishment of general farm organizations, or with recruiting members for existing farm organizations. This is a necessary corollary of the equally long established policy of the Department that it shall deal fairly with all farm organizations and deal with each upon the same basis. As a continuation of this policy, it should be understood by employees of the Department that it is not permissible for any of them to:

      1. Participate in establishing any general farm organization.

      2. Act as organizer for any such general farm organization or hold any office therein.

      3. Act as financial or business agent for any general farm organization.

      4. Participate in any way in any membership campaign or other activity designed to recruit members for any such organization.

        This statement should not be construed as implying an unfriendly attitude toward farm organizations. Farmers, like other great economic groups in our society, require nongovernmental organizations through which they may develop and express their hopes, aspirations, and desires; through which they may make our democratic processes vital; through which, collectively, they may reach the right people at the right time. But the Department must distinguish clearly between what it is proper for nongovernmental farm organizations to do and what it is proper for a governmental employee to do. The same reasoning that led to the congressional enactment that governmental employees should not directly or indirectly take any action to influence the legislative process (except through the established procedures of Government), also leads to the conclusion that official personnel must not aid in the formation or development of farm organizations, no matter how desirable they may be.

    3. Prohibited Activity - No employee of this Department shall:

      1. Accept the use of free office space or contributions for salary or traveling expense from any general or specialized organization of farmers.

      2. Advocate that any particular general or specialized organization of farmers is better adapted for carrying out the work of this Department than any individual citizen, groups of citizens, or organizations.

      3. Advocate that the responsibilities of any agency of this Department or any other Federal agency should be carried out through any particular general or specialized organization of farmers.

      4. Advocate or recommend that any state or local agency should carry out its responsibilities through any particular general or specialized organization of farmers.

      5. Approve contracts for the Department with any cooperative or other commercial organization whenever such cooperative or other commercial organization deducts or "checks off" from payments due farmers, membership dues of such farmers to any general or specialized organization of farmers except as it is determined that current authorization for such deductions has been knowingly filed by such individual farmers with the cooperative or other commercial organization.

      6. Directly or indirectly solicit membership in any general or specialized organization of farmers as defined herein.

  2. Restriction Against Testifying or Aiding in Claims Against the Federal Government

    1. Cooperative Extension faculty members are under cooperative appointment and serve as representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As a USDA representative, they are prohibited from appearing as a witness against the government and may not aid or assist in a claim against the United States. Title 18, Section 283, United States Code states:

      "Whoever, being an officer or employee of the United States or any department or agency thereof, or of the Senate or House of Representatives, acts as an agent or attorney for prosecuting any claim against the United States, or aids or assists in the prosecution or support of any such claim otherwise than in the proper discharge of his official duties, or receives any gratuity, or any share of or interest in any such claim in consideration of assistance in the prosecution of such claim, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."

      1. The paragraph quoted above is construed to mean that Extension faculty members cannot appear as expert witnesses against the government in land condemnation suits, in damage claims resulting from military plane crashes, or in foreclosure suits by Federal lending agencies, except as follows:

        The Extension faculty member is subpoenaed by the court as an expert witness. A branch of the Federal Government takes the Extension faculty member to appraise damages done to a crop.

    2. The sense of the restriction is that where the United States is potentially the liable party, voluntary assistance to the damaged member of the public is contrary to the interest of the government.

  3. Mailing Lists
    Federal penalty mail regulations require Cooperative Extension faculty members to maintain current mailing lists. Included is the stipulation that individuals on a mailing list must be polled at least once a year to determine whether or not they are interested in remaining on the mailing list to receive information. The federal policy on the use of mailing lists compiled by Extension faculty or staff is as follows:

    "Mailing lists of farmers or others compiled and maintained by Extension agents shall not be given directly or indirectly to any person, firm, or association, unless the furnishing of such lists is a part of their official work or unless authorized to do so by the State Extension Director."