Farm Service Agency offices could be closed - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Farm Service Agency offices could be closed

October 11, 2005

Albany -- Nearly half of the Farm Service Agency offices in Georgia could be closed in a nationwide modernization proposal.

The Agriculture Department is studying a plan that would close 39 of the state's 83 county F.S.A. offices. The U.S.D.A. wants to trim costs, closing 30 percent of it's 713 offices nationwide and cut 655 jobs.

The F.S.A. provides credit to farmers and ranchers and helps with farm disaster programs.

Dougherty County F.S.A. Director Jay Arnold says the cuts are designed to make farmers use computers more, but he fears that could lead to fraud. Arnold said "Anytime you can apply for programs and benefits yourself at home, there could be the tendency to put some information in that may not be correct."

The Farm Service Agency offices will be judged on workload, and distance between offices to decide which will be closed or consolidated.

The Agriculture Department is scheduled to announce their decision November 15th, but several Congressmen nationwide have asked for more details before any office closings are finalized.

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