Lucas authors bill to stop FSA office closures
USDA Plan Would Close 19 Oklahoma FSA Offices
Washington , D.C. - U.S. Third District Congressman Frank Lucas will introduce legislation today to stop the proposed closure by USDA of 30 percent of the more than 2,300 Farm Service Agency field offices.
The proposed mass closures are part of USDA's recently proposed “FSA Tomorrow” plan, which the department says will help “ensure it meets the needs of farmers and ranchers in the 21st Century.”
“I think I understand what USDA means when they call it the ‘FSA Tomorrow' plan - today we're open, tomorrow we're closed,” Lucas said. “This is a terrible time for USDA to close those offices that are the department's only real link to rural America .”
USDA's “FSA Tomorrow” plan would close 19 of the 65 FSA offices in Oklahoma , and all 65 Oklahoma offices will be under review to be one of the 19 closed offices. Each state would convene a committee that will determine which offices will be closed, and will submit their proposal to USDA by Nov. 15.
The legislation Lucas authored will prohibit any local or county FSA office closings at least until 2007, when the next Farm Bill will take effect.
“Once we've written the next Farm Bill we will know how much the FSA offices will be utilized over the coming decade,” Lucas said. “We shouldn't make decisions to cut back these offices if their workload could be increasing significantly in coming years.”
Lucas also set the 2007 date to prevent the legislation from being overturned in the courts, on the grounds that without a set date, it would reverse an authorized executive authority.
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