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Farmers Disappointed at USDA Closures

11 January 2012, at 10:29am

US - National Farmers Union (NFU) expressed disappointment after US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the closure of more than 250 US Department of Agriculture (USDA) facilities.

“It should come as no surprise that Farm Service Agency (FSA) and other USDA service and research facilities are closing because of the continued emphasis on spending reduction,” said NFU Vice President of Government Relations Chandler Goule.

“A ‘cut first, ask questions later’ attitude in Congress toward investing in agriculture and rural America is now showing its true cost to farmers, ranchers and rural citizens with these closures. Agriculture cannot be continually asked to do more than its fair share to resolve our nation’s deficit problems – our leaders must look elsewhere to find solutions.”

According to USDA, a total of 259 facilities across the country will be shut down. FSA offices will account for 131 of the closures, and agricultural research stations, Natural Resource Conservation offices, Rural Development offices and Food, Nutrition and Consumer Service offices, among other agencies, will account for the rest.

“The efforts Secretary Vilsack and USDA have undertaken to conserve resources are commendable,” said Mr Goule. “They have made great strides toward streamlining and economising the department’s operations. Since 2010, Congress has cut USDA’s discretionary spending levels by about 12 per cent, and USDA has done its best to prevent those reductions from affecting the quality of service that farmers and ranchers have come to expect. With the latest spending reductions, it was not possible to avoid painful cuts that will harm farmers and ranchers across the country.”