Friday, October 28, 2016

RFP recap....Alaska Ag's MMM&S facility

(Photo credit: ADN)

The newly published RFP (Request for Proposal) released today, October 28th, 2016 bears a recap.

The notice linked below, is actually the second such RFP issued concerning the plant this year. When the first one was published, a tremendous amount of speculation ensued. Perhaps a coalition lead by members of the Alaska Farm Bureau, maybe. Or maybe someone who had a lengthy history of livestock production here. Or someone else, who was not well known-no one knew who, or how many would respond.

In the end, just one person responded, with a newly formed company. The man attended one of the BAC meetings, and to say his reception to his speech was chilly, is an understatement. He made some broad boasts, asserted dubious (at best) facts, and ended up insulting the entire industry by the time he was done. In the end, his proposal was turned down. Since that matter is private, one can only speculate, but it made the rounds (and Facebook groups) and was thoroughly discussed and dissected and he was (basically) publicly eviscerated. This author's hunch is that despite his pie-in-the-sky claims, he did not have enough ready capital (read: cash on hand) for daily operations-but again, just speculation. All that is known for certain is that Rean Brooks, and his company, are not in the running this time around either. 

The link below will take you to the actual notice for the plant:

Given that the state is highly unlikely to hire experienced, qualified people and get them trained within six weeks....and it's highly unlikely anyone is going to hand over $700,000 for the plant by the December 15th deadline-what happens then?

Department of Corrections personnel are not trained, do not have the necessary certifications, and still don't even provide their own transportation for the inmates. The Division of Ag does not have the manpower either, and neither does the Department of Natural Resources. So where will that leave all the small producers, the family homesteads, the small businesses that depend upon the plant being open for their livelihood?

You know the answer to that........

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Alaska Ag....lost in the weeds

Like an invasive weed, that bane of every gardener everywhere, MMM&S issues never seem to be resolved. 

Oh, you thought that topic was gone....dead and buried in the mists of local history?

Alas no, the issues surrounding the plant, and the players involved, continues to spread discontent and confusion throughout Alaska Ag, and beyond.

Alaska Ag is not helped by the perception that the new Director of the Division of Ag, does not seem to be seriously committed to the plant. Not being a livestock producer, one could possibly excuse the inattention...but being tasked to tend all of Alaska Ag does not mean the Director should be able to pick and choose which sectors to protect, promote, or preserve.  If one listens to the latest audio recording of the BAC (Board of Agricultural Conservation) meeting on October 24th, who oversees the plant...the frustration is clearly evident. The farmers present want a solution, and the bureaucrat(s) present fall back on procedure and protocol. And in the middle: Every producer who uses, or hopes to use, the plant waits with bated breath.

Over the course of the summer, a curious event happened which involved a plant production manager, the Director of the Division of Agriculture, and the Alaska State Troopers.  It is fairly well known that a plant production manager was escorted off the premises, by a Trooper....and ended up taking a couple weeks' leave while the matter was sorted out. Whether or not we, the public, will ever learn what happened and why, is an open question.

Recently, it was rumored that all three employees had given notice of termination of employment with the state, effective December 15th.  It's a small community, so of course rumors tend to make the rounds and it wasn't long before verbal confirmation was obtained.  Yet, according to DNR (who seemingly hires for the plant) they have yet to get notification in writing.

But that aside, the problem is this:  IF the state makes an exception and is allowed to hire replacements (keeping in mind the DoC training and/or certification is needed for inmates to continue to work at the plant) it isn't going to happen as fast as December 15th. Generally speaking, employment openings are advertised for at least 30 days. Then, the review and interview process takes place, with selection following typically 60 to 90 days after first posting of the job vacancy. Given the glacial pace of the hiring process, it does not seem likely that any people hired to work at the plant through the fiscal year, will get any training whatsoever from current employees. November 1st is just around the corner, remember?

As a puzzler on this particular matter, the DNR guy (Ed Fogels, I think?) was heard stating that he had a replacement in mind...which this listener found very odd indeed.

And lastly, this cannot be stated often enough:

If the BAC and it's borrowers assume any losses from plant operations....why is it constantly stated that MMM&S is funded through the State?