Tuesday, January 10, 2012
USDA Proposes To Close 259 Offices, Including 31 Cornbelt FSA OfficesTweet
In an effort to pare the federal budget, the USDA has proposed the closing of 259 local offices throughout the nation. But the latest effort to reduce costs by cutting local jobs and local services is much different from prior efforts to downsize. In previous administrations, the proposed cuts were primarily targeted at local Farm Service Administration (FSA) offices with the alternative to get farmers to shift their access to USDA to the Internet. The more recent effort to downsize has a different complexion.
The USDA’s latest initiative to cut costs is labeled “Blueprint for Stronger Service,” and the Department’s news release says it is part of a campaign to cut waste and operate more efficiently. Among the cuts are 259 offices, facilities, and laboratories across the US, along with 7 foreign offices. Among the justifications cited are, offices within 20 miles of each other, offices with fewer than 2 staff members, and locations where “broadband internet services have reduced the need for brick and mortar.” The savings totaled $150 million.
Nationally the closures include:
1) 131 county FSA offices in 32 states
2) 2 Foreign Agriculture Service offices abroad
3) 15 Animal and Plant Health Inspection offices in the US and 5 abroad
4) 43 area Rural Development offices in 17 states
5) 24 NRCS soil survey offices in 21 states
6) 5 district Food Safety and Inspection Service offices
7) 12 Agriculture Research Service programs in 10 locations
8) 31 field offices of the Food, Nutrition and Consumer Service in 28 states
Announcing the closings, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “Agriculture is experiencing its most productive period in history, thanks to the resiliency, resourcefulness and efficiency of American producers.”
The Cornbelt will be impacted by many of the cuts:
Illinois: 1 Food and Nutrition Service office in Chicago
Indiana: FSA offices in Crown Point, South Bend, and Martinsville; NRCS office in Plymouth; APHIS offices in Indianapolis and West Lafayette, and the Food and Nutrition Service office in Indianapolis.
Iowa: FSA offices in Centerville, Leon, and Creston; NRCS office in Fairfield.
Kansas: NRCS office in Salina, Food and Nutrition office in Wichita; Food Safety and inspection office in Lawrence.
Michigan: FSA office in Portage; NRCS office in Marquette; Food and Nutrition office in Grand Rapids.
Minnesota: FSA offices in Waseca, St. Peter, Jordan, North Branch, and Hinckley; Food and Nutrition office in St. Paul; and Food Safety and Inspection Service office in Minneapolis.
Missouri: FSA offices in Hillsboro, Buffalo, and Versailles; NRCS office in Dexter, Rural Development offices in Hillsboro, Jefferson City, Carthage, and Jackson; Food and Nutrition office in St. Louis and Kansas City.
North Dakota: NRCS office in Bismarck; Food and Nutrition Service office in Bismarck.
Nebraska: NRCS office in Scotts Bluff.
Ohio: FSA offices in Brookville, Pomeroy, Springfield, Somerset, and Carrolton; Ag Research station in Coshocton; APHIS office in Bowling Green; Food and Nutrition Service office in Columbus and Cincinnati
South Dakota: FSA offices in Mound City, Buffalo, Kadoka, and Wessington Springs; Food and Nutrition Office in Rapid City.
Wisconsin: FSA office in Marinette; Food Safety and Inspection Service office in Madison.
Cornbelt farmers may lose 21 of the 131 FSA offices nationwide that are proposed for closing. However after the last proposed closure, Congress tightened the rules for closing FSA offices. The USDA cannot close an office until first closing offices that have two or fewer permanent employees and are within 20 miles of another office. If an office is to be closed, a local public hearing has to be held, and the Senators and Congressman representing that office must be notified more than 90 days before closure.
USDA’s effort to reduce operating costs have resulted in the proposed closing of 259 offices in the US and abroad, serving a wide variety of USDA services, from farm programs and soil conservation to food and nutrition education. Among the proposed closures are 55 offices in Cornbelt states, including 21 FSA offices. Closures of FSA offices must include a public hearing.
Posted by Stu Ellis on 01/10 at 05:01 AM | Permalink
Posted by: Frank at January 10, 2012 7:07AM