Arkansas Could Lose 16 USDA Offices

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 62 views 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will close 259 domestic offices, facilities and labs across the country in the coming months, with 16 of the planned closings in Arkansas.

The Farm Service Agencies in Benton and Washington counties will consolidate. Bentonville’s office will close, but its small staff will transfer to the Fayetteville office. There are eight full-time workers between the two offices, according to Ted Collins, executive director for the two counties.

In the Fort Smith area, FSA offices in Paris and Clarksville are also on the government’s closure list. These small offices will consolidate in Ozark according to Linda Newkirk, state director.

She said all three offices are already being overseen by the same executive director, Stephen Atkinson. There is one employee in Paris and two in Clarksville, Newkirk said.

Arkansas Offices Slated to Close
Farm Service Agency (FSA)
Salem (Fulton County)
Melbourne (Izard County)
North Little Rock (Pulaski County)
Conway (Faulkner County)
Clarksville (Johnson County)
Bentonville (Benton County)
Warren (Bradley County)
Hot Springs (Garland County)
Lewisville (Lafayette County)
Paris (Logan County)

• Natural Resource Conservation Offices (NRCS)
Little Rock (Pulaski County)

• Rural Development Offices (RD)
Melbourne (Izard County)
Conway (Faulkner County)
Searcy (White County)
Malvern (Hot Springs County)
Walnut Ridge (Sevier County)

USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said late Monday the office closures were necessary to avoid furloughs and possible lay-offs as the federal government seeks to trim $150 million from its annual budget.

Vilsack’s “Blueprint for Stronger Service” includes a list of 133 recommendations. The first 27 “initial improvements” include the following:
• Consolidate more than 700 cell phone plans into about 10;
• Standardize civil rights training and purchases of cyber security products;
• Ensure more efficient and effective service to employees by moving toward more centralized civil rights, human resource, procurement, and property management functions, creating millions of dollars in efficiencies without sacrificing the quality of our work; and,
• Close 259 domestic offices, facilities and labs across the country, as well as seven foreign offices.

The USDA statement explained that some offices “are no longer staffed or have a very small staff of one or two people; many are within 20 miles of other.”

“The USDA, like families and businesses across the country, cannot continue to operate like we did 50 years ago,” said Vilsack. “We must innovate, modernize, and be better stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars.”

This report was provided by our content partner, The City Wire.

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