By: Chris Bruynis, Assistant Professor & Extension Educator
The decision to approve the consolidation of 125 FSA offices nationwide under the authority provided in the 2008 Farm Bill was announced on May 29, 2012. These office closures were influenced by the following criteria used by USDA:
- USDA followed Congressional direction under the 2008 Farm Bill to propose first for consolidation, to the maximum extent practicable, all offices which are located less than 20 miles from another office, and which employ 2 or fewer permanent full-time employees.
- USDA identified all FSA offices that currently have zero permanent employees – regardless of location.
The decision to finalize a consolidation plan followed a thorough process, also guided by provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill. Public meetings were held in every county affected by the proposal; the Department formally notified Congress of the proposal on February 27, 2012; and finally, the Department carefully reviewed public comments and data used to create the proposal during a 90-day Congressional notification period. During this review, USDA determined that six of the original 131 proposed offices did not meet the 2008 Farm Bill criteria for office consolidations. As a result, they are not included in the closure plan announced by USDA. The list detailing the consolidation plan is attached.
Steven Maurer, the Ohio Farm Service Agency State Executive Director, provided the following proposal of consolidation for the clientele of the five offices within USDA’s Ohio FSA that are closing.
- Carroll County will be consolidated with the Tuscarawas County FSA office and located in New Philadelphia, Ohio.
- Clark County will be consolidated with the Madison County FSA office and located in London, Ohio.
- Meigs County will be consolidated with the Gallia/Lawrence County FSA office and located in Gallipolis, Ohio.
- Montgomery County will be consolidated with the Preble County FSA office and located in Eaton, Ohio.
- Perry County will be consolidated with the Fairfield County FSA office and located in Lancaster, Ohio.
Even though there is a plan on where the FSA office workload will be moved for the affected counties, farmers still have an option to choose the office most convenient for them. When farms are transferred to an administrative county due to County Office closure, producers have the ability to request a new administrative County Office based on convenience of the producer. There are a set of guidelines that need to be followed and approval is dependent on either the county committee or the state committee depending on the request. Producers on farms affected by County Office closures have 30 calendar days from the date of the letter they receive notifying them of the closure to select a new administrative County Office. If you are interested in learning more about selecting a new administrative County Office, contact your current or future FSA office for details.