WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2012-- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today informed Congress that in 90 days he plans to approve consolidation of 131 Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices with other USDA service centers.

The consolidations are under the Blueprint for Stronger Service announced on January 9, which included USDA's plan to close 259 domestic offices, facilities and labs, including the proposed closure of 131 FSA offices, and seven foreign offices.

FSA has a remaining 2,113 office locations. The Blueprint is based on a Department-wide review of operations and indicates it will provide efficiencies valued at about $150 million annually.

Consistent with provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill, FSA held public meetings in every county in which an FSA office was proposed for consolidation. Members of the public were invited to make public comments at the meetings, and/or to submit comments in writing for up to 10 days following the public meeting. All comments were reviewed and considered prior to the issuance of the Secretary's notification letters to Congress.

USDA identified FSA offices for closure if they are located within 20 miles of another office and employ two or fewer permanent full-time employees. In addition, FSA identified all offices that currently have zero employees, regardless of location.

Fact sheets on the Blueprint for Stronger Service can be found here, by USDA Mission Area: Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS); Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS); Food Safety; Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP); Natural Resources and the Environment (NRE); Research, Education and Economics (REE); and Rural Development. www.usda.gov/strongerservice


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