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Delta County citizens speak out against FSA closing

Cindy Roller/Cooper Review
Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs Juan M. Garcia answered the questions of those in attendance at the FSA meeting Tuesday morning.

COOPER - Opinions against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed office consolidation the Texas Farm Service Agency (FSA) were aired during a public meeting Tuesday morning at the First Baptist Church in Cooper. 

“It is the legislation guidelines we have to follow,” said FSA Acting State Executive Director James Douglass, explaining the background of the terms. “To summarize, offices with two or fewer employees and within 20 miles of nearest neighboring office are on the chopping block. …It is not based on how much money is handled, how many are served or how hard the staff at that office works.”

How much will FSA save if the Delta County office is closed?

“Actual savings [strictly for rent and utilities] will be $20,000,” offered Juan Garcia, noting FSA has no intentions of reimbursing mileage for travel.

Ed Pickard of Pecan Gap replied, “A savings of only $20,000 is an insult to us. It will cost us at least that much in fuel for travel to another office.”

“The bottom line is it is a tough budget situation, and the USDA is taking the brunt of the cuts. The Secretary [of Agriculture] is trying to be proactive in savings rather than let some else dictate. …We fully understand your needs and your expectations for good service and you should receive the same where ever you go,” reassured Garcia.

July is the target date, following the other public meetings across Texas these next few months. If it does happen, participants will have 60 days to report to FSA where they choose to move their records or they will be automatically moved to Hopkins County.

Citizens are urged to continue to send in their opinions either by writing or e-mailing them directly to txsed@tx.usda.gov within the 10 calendar days of the Jan. 31, 2012 meeting to qualify as a voice for Delta County.