SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ANNOUNCES CLOSURE OF 250 USDA OFFICES
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that 250 USDA offices will be closed, including one in Dothan.
The secretary detailed the changes in a speech today at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 93rd Annual Meeting. A video of the secretary's remarks and a list of the offices to be closed can be found at http://www.usda.gov/strongerervice
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) must be built to meet the evolving needs of a 21st century agricultural economy, Vilsack said.
"The USDA, like families and businesses across the country, cannot continue to operate like we did 50 years ago," said Vilsack. "We must innovate, modernize, and be better stewards of the taxpayers' dollars. We must build on the record accomplishments of farm communities in 2011 with a stronger, more effective USDA in 2012 and beyond."
Vilsack described the closures as "The Blueprint for Stronger Service," saying it is based on a Department-wide review of operations conducted as part of the Administration's Campaign to Cut Waste, launched by President Obama and Vice President Biden to make government work better and more efficiently for the American people.
The USDA will close 259 domestic offices, facilities and labs across the country, as well as seven foreign offices. In some cases, offices are no longer staffed or have a very small staff of one or two people; many are within 20 miles of other USDA offices. In other cases, technology improvements, advanced service centers, and broadband service have reduced some need for brick and mortar facilities.
When fully implemented, these actions along with other recommended changes will provide efficiencies valued at about $150 million annually-and eventually more based on future realignment of the workforce-and will ensure that USDA continues to provide optimal service to the American people within available funding levels. These actions and plans to close or consolidate facility, office and lab operations will impact USDA headquarters in Washington and in 46 states and 1 U.S. territory.
The plan includes:
Farm Service Agency (FSA): Consolidate 131 county offices in 32 states; more than 2,100 FSA offices remain throughout the United States
Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS): Close 2 country offices; more than 95 FAS offices remain throughout the world
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS): Close 15 APHIS offices in 11 states and 5 APHIS offices in 5 foreign countries; more than 560 APHIS offices remain throughout the United States and 55 remain throughout the world
Rural Development (RD): Close 43 area and sub offices in 17 states and U.S. territories; approximately 450 RD offices remain throughout the United States
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS): Close 24 soil survey offices in 21 states; more than 2,800 NRCS offices remain throughout the United States
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS): Close 5 district offices in 5 states; 10 district offices remain throughout the United States
Agricultural Research Service (ARS): Close 12 programs at 10 locations; more than 240 programs remain throughout the United States
Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services (FNCS): Close 31 field offices in 28 states; 32 FNCS offices will remain throughout the United States
For more information, visit www.usda.gov/strongerservice