The Bradley County Farm Service Agency office is one of nine FSA county offices in Arkansas scheduled for closure. The United States Department of Agriculture in January announced plans to close 131 FSA county offices across the nation, including 10 in Arkansas. Following public input, the Lafayette County FSA office is the only one of the 10 slated for closure in Arkansas that was spared.
In addition to the Bradley County office, offices in Benton, Faulkner, Fulton, Garland, Izard, Johnson, Logan and Pulaski will close.
The USDA says it is closing offices that are located less than 20 miles from another FSA office and has no more than two permanent, full-time employees. Farmers in those counties would still be eligible for USDA assistance but would be assigned to different counties.
“FSA is striving to balance budget reductions, staff reductions, and increasing workloads while focusing the efforts of agency staff on continuing to provide high quality service from the remaining 2,119 office locations,” the USDA said in a press release.
U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, a Democrat from Jonesboro, has introduced legislation that would prevent the Department of Agriculture from closing any Farm Service Agency offices until the completion of county workload assessments. Crawford is co-sponsoring the legislation with Congressman Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Iowa.
“The Farm Service Accountability Act will make sure that offices with high workloads are not closed,” Crawford said. “The USDA must recognize the producers’ needs and take workload into consideration before any FSA office is closed.”