Hertford County FSA office on closure list

Published 11:02 am Friday, March 2, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The rumor of FSA’s (Farm Service Agency) demise in Hertford County is apparently true.

On Monday afternoon, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack informed Congress that in 90 days he will approve the closures of 259 domestic offices, facilities and labs, including 131 FSA offices, and seven foreign offices.

Included in the closure list is the FSA office in Winton that serves Hertford County. Other local FSA offices on the closure list include those in Chowan and Warren counties.

Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) expressed disappointment with the decision as Hertford, Chowan and Warren counties are all within his district.

Earlier last month, Butterfield wrote a letter to Vilsack urging him to reconsider a proposal to close FSA offices in those three counties, citing the high volume of farmers who rely on their services.

“These offices are indispensable to thousands of farmers in my district,” said Butterfield.  “While I understand the agency must find ways to reduce spending, shuttering FSA offices in eastern North Carolina will only limit access to USDA services for underserved populations.  I am certain that there is a better solution.”

The Congressman insists that the current timeframe (90 days) is insufficient notice to close the offices and guarantee that all farmers in the FSA system are properly notified of the upcoming changes.  Butterfield also said he urges Vilsack to ensure that all FSA employees affected by the announced closures will not be laid off, and instead given the option of being reassigned to a nearby office.