FSA CONSIDERS CLOSING FIVE ALABAMA OFFICES
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Five county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices in Alabama could be closed under a restructuring plan being considered by U.S. Department of Agriculture officials.
The new plan is a significant improvement over the "FSA Tomorrow" initiative announced last year, which would have closed 713 offices nationwide including 15 in Alabama. FSA State Executive Director Danny Crawford said tight budgets are driving the restructuring efforts.
"With all of the demands for the moneys that are available -- including hurricane relief and the war on terror -- everybody is being asked to look at ways we can do things more efficiently," Crawford said. "At the same time, farming in Alabama has changed. Producers in some counties have left row crop farming and put their land in CRP (the Conservation Reserve Program) or pasture.
"We are being asked to look at those small workload counties that have very few office visits by farmers and determine how we can provide the same level of service without having an office in each of those counties," he said.
Crawford said his staff is looking at the possibility of locating consolidated offices in towns where farmers already purchase supplies and conduct other business. If offices are closed, he said farmers will be able to choose a nearby office to handle their FSA business.
No employees would lose their jobs under the restructuring plan. As a result, Crawford said FSA would be better able to adequately staff offices that have heavier workloads.
Crawford said he will be meeting with farmers and county FSA committees in targeted counties in the coming weeks. A plan will then be submitted to the FSA national office for approval.
It could be a month or more before FSA announces which county offices, if any, will be closed.