Earlier this week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the Department of Agriculture planned to close nearly 250 offices across the country, most of them dealing with aid for farmers.
Currently the USDA operates thousands of offices across the country, ensuring that each rural county has at least one Farm Service Agency office.
USDA office closures have been debated before. In the past several years, the USDA has attempted to shut down unnecessary and inefficient offices around the country. Each time, however, the organization has run into opposition from Congress. Prompted by resistance from farm advocacy organizations, Congress has refused to shutter offices without adequate notification and proof that the local office is not needed.
Vilsack has stated that the closures will not hinder the USDA’s larger mission, saying, “Even with these changes, USDA will still have a strong presence in virtually all counties in the country as well as around the world. Over the long haul, we believe farmers and ranchers across the country will be better served by the choice we made.”
Vilsack claims that the closures will help streamline USDA operations. Replacing physical offices with an increased electronic presence, the USDA claims, will make it easier for farmers to receive federal services. In addition, the closures will help save up to $150 million a year.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer