In the 2008 farm bill, congress mandated that Farm Service Agency cut their budget by 12.5 percent. Part of those budget cuts will include closing some county FSA offices. There are six offices in North Carolina targeted, and three in South Carolina. Chief of Public Affairs for FSA, Kent Politsch explains how the county offices were selected for closure:
“Twenty miles by crow’s flight from another county office and two or fewer employees that would be affected. However, no employee is losing their job; they are being asked to transfer. The first choice of transfer is the county where it appears that most of the constituents from the closed office will be moving their business. So we want to put the person where the additional work is going to occur. We also want that familiar face from the county that is being consolidated, moved to where the farmers from that county are going to do their business.”
Politsch explains that it’s the hope to simply do away with the bricks and mortar, and associated overhead, not the personnel. He also explains that more and more farmers are dealing with their local FSA office electronically, and it’s certainly the way of the future:
“We are in a very serious transition period now. We are looking at more electronic communications. Most people are acquiring computers. They understand that in order to be competitive in today’s world they have to have access to information instantaneously. Paper doesn’t cut it anymore. Not that it’s going to be an overnight phenomenon, but we might as well get used to the fact that business has to be conducted in a different way. Bricks and mortar are very expensive for a government to maintain.”
The meetings on the closures are complete, and the list has been submitted to congress, which has 90 days to make adjustments or not. After that 90 day period, a final closure list will be released, probably in late May or early June.