East Texas to Lose FSA Offices

As part of their nationwide reduction in Farm Service Agency offices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is planning to shut down up to 17 county offices in eastern Texas.

The office closures are part of a budget reduction contained in the 2008 Farm Bill designed to help reduce overall federal budget deficits. While Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack insists that the closures will not negatively affect FSA services and that all targeted closures are fixed on offices that are redundant or inefficient, some farmers are still worried that the shutdowns could hurt production.

Many Texas farmers are particularly worried. For more than a year, most of the state has been locked in the grip of a devastating drought, which withered crops and weakened livestock. While the final estimates are not yet complete, it is likely that the damage could reach into the tens of billions of dollars.

Because of the severe damage of the drought and their continued dependence on federal aid, many Texas farmers are worried that FSA closures could damage their productivity. According to a Texas Agri-ife Extension agent, the closure will result in reduced federal service accessibility. “For example, if you want to go down and fill out paperwork for assistance, you may have to travel a little further.”

In response to these closures, some congressional leaders have been debating limiting the power of the USDA to close FSA office. Earlier this year, Iowa Representative Leonard Boswell and Arkansas Representative Rick Crawford introduced legislation that would prevent the USDA from shutting down highly used FSA offices and would require a public workload assessment before an office could be closed.

To learn more about Texas farm loans and agricultural financing opportunities, contact a Farm Plus Financial representative by calling 866-929-5585 or by visiting www.farmloans.com.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer