USDA proceeds with FSA office closures
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WASHINGTON, May 30, 2012- USDA announced its decision on Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office consolidations proposed in January as part of USDA’s Blueprint for Stronger Service. In total, FSA will consolidate 125 of the 131 offices originally proposed for consolidation.
The Blueprint included USDA’s plan to close or consolidate 259 domestic offices including the FSA offices, additional facilities and labs, and seven foreign offices. FSA is balancing reduced budgets and fewer workers in the remaining 2,119 office locations.
USDA followed statutory requirements provided by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill for FSA office consolidations. The department identified FSA offices for closure located less than 20 miles from another FSA office that had two or fewer permanent, full-time employees. Additionally, the proposal included all FSA offices with zero permanent employees regardless of location.
Public meetings were held within 30 days of the original announcement in every county affected by the proposal. The department formally notified Congress of the proposal on Feb. 27, 2012. During the following 90-day Congressional notification period, the department reviewed data used to create the proposal and public comments received during this period. During this review, USDA determined that 6 of the original 131 proposed offices did not meet the 2008 Farm Bill criteria for consolidation. As a result, they are not included in the final plan.
In the USDA announcement, the department states that FSA will provide farmers and ranchers affected by consolidations an opportunity to choose the most convenient neighboring county office to conduct their future business. In addition, all employees in a closing office will be provided an opportunity to continue their work with FSA.
The six proposed county offices that will continue operating are: Lafayette County, Ark.; Boulder County, Colo.; St. Mary Parish, La.; Pamlico County, N.C.; Mayes County, Okla.; and York County, S.C. For a complete list of FSA county offices affected by this decision, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/officeconsolidations.
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