Some communities in East Texas and elsewhere in the state are about to lose their Farm Service Agency offices. James B. Douglass, Acting Texas State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency (FSA), announced Tuesday that USDA Secretary Thomas A. Vilsack has approved the closure of 15 FSA county offices in Texas, a process that will begin immediately. The county offices confirmed for closure in East Texas include Upshur-Gregg, Rusk, Van Zandt, Cass-Marion, and Shelby. According to an FSA news release, after the required notifications have been provided to producers, FSA employees, and office landlords, closure dates will be established and made publicly available.
"FSA places the utmost priority on ensuring that our services to producers remain strong as this consolidation process begins," said FSA Administrator Bruce Nelson. According to the news release, the agency will provide farmers and ranchers affected by closures an opportunity to choose the most convenient neighboring county office with which to conduct their future business with the agency. In addition, officials say, all employees in a closing office will be provided an opportunity to continue their work with FSA.
The news release continues that as a federal agency, FSA has been affected by widespread budget reductions made by Congress. Since 2011, the agency has lost 1,230 permanent employees through voluntary early separation and normal retirement. In addition, officials say, FSA has been forced to reduce discretionary administrative expenses by over 30 percent in the last fiscal year alone. Click here for a complete list of FSA county offices nationwide affected by this decision.