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USDA announces closure of 259 agency offices
National Report -- The U.S. (USDA) Department of Agriculture will close 259 domestic offices, according to a Jan. 9 announcement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, including offices that employ veterinarians.
—The U.S. Department of Agriculture will close 259 domestic offices, according to a Jan. 9 announcement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The plan is a part of USDA’s Blueprint for Stronger Service, based on a department-wide review of operations as part of the Obama Administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste, Vilsack says.
"The USDA, like families and businesses across the country, cannot continue to operate like we did 50 years ago," says Vilsack. "We must innovate, modernize and be better stewards of the taxpayers' dollars. We must build on the record accomplishments of farm communities in 2011 with a stronger, more effective USDA in 2012 and beyond."
Closing the 259 domestic offices, facilities and labs across the country signals a consolidation of physical facilities, but is not intended to reduce the department's workforce, USDA says.
The closures, by agency include:
• Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS): Close 15 APHIS offices in 11 states and five APHIS offices in five foreign countries; more than 560 APHIS offices remain throughout the United States and 55 remain throughout the world;
• Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS): Close five district offices in five states; 10 district offices remain throughout the United States;
• Agricultural Research Service (ARS): Close 12 programs at 10 locations; more than 240 programs remain throughout the United States;
• Farm Service Agency (FSA): Consolidate 131 county offices in 32 states; more than 2,100 FSA offices remain throughout the United States;
• Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS): Close 2 country offices; more than 95 FAS offices remain throughout the world;
• Rural Development (RD): Close 43 area and sub offices in 17 states and U.S. territories; approximately 450 RD offices remain throughout the United States;
• Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS): Close 24 soil survey offices in 21 states; more than 2,800 NRCS offices remain throughout the United States; and
• Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services (FNCS): Close 31 field offices in 28 states; 32 FNCS offices will remain throughout the United States.
The closures are expected to save about $150 million per year to start, according to USDA.
USDA spokesperson Matt Herrick tells
that employee cuts are not planned as part of the closures. All permanent, full-time employees at the offices affected by these closures will be given the option to transfer to another USDA location, he says. No layoffs or furloughs are planned, although USDA acknowledges that some USDA employees affected by the closures may opt against continuing their employment with the agency.
“Our hope is that very few of these employees -- hopefully none -- will leave, Herrick says.
In addition to the closures, USDA is implementing a series of other cost-savings measures such as consolidating more than 700 cell-phone plans into about 10.
Detailed fact sheets on the Blueprint for Stronger Service can be found at