Aaron A. Martin, North Carolina State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency (FSA), announced this week that USDA Secretary Thomas A. Vilsack has approved the closure of five FSA county offices in North Carolina, a process that will begin immediately. 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.
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, all employees in a closing office will be provided an opportunity to continue their work with FSA.
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, FSA has been forced to reduce discretionary administrative expenses by more than 30 percent in the last fiscal year alone.
The county offices confirmed for closure in North Carolina are: Catawba County, Chowan County, Hertford County, Moore-Montgomery County and Warren County.
For a complete list of FSA county offices affected by this decision, go to: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/officeconsolidations.
“Quite a few of our farmers and landowners are also farmers and land owners in other counties and could definitely be impacted by the office closing of Moore/Montgomery or even some of the other offices,” said Richmond and Anson counties FSA Executive Director Amy Yaklin. “Farmers and landowners who participate in USDA Farm Programs and Services will be given the chance and opportunity to choose an administrative county to assist them.
“The FSA office closing for Moore/Montgomery County has been slated to move to Lee County, which is in Sanford. When that happens, producers may want to consider a county office closer to them than going to the office in Sanford. Traveling that far might be a hardship for someone who lives on this side of Moore or Montgomery Counties. They may consider Richmond County as their administrative office to conduct business or other counties closer to them or where they have other land interest. There are several options. Those who do not make a choice, or would like to move will automatically go to the new headquarters county,” she said.
Details about office closure and consolidation are still being developed.
“I am sure more details of all the options will be available soon and will be mailed out to all producers affected by this within a week or two,” said Yaklin. “In the meantime if anyone has any questions or concerns, we will be happy to try to help.”
You can reach the Richmond County Farm Service Agency by calling 910-895-3950, ext. 2.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.