Archive for Monday, September 26, 2005

Streamlining maneuver may result in fewer Farm Service offices in state

Proposed closings feed anxiety

September 26, 2005


Thousands of farmers across Kansas rely on their local Farm Service Agency office to obtain loans and other payments from federal programs - but maybe not for long.

The federal agency is considering a plan to streamline operations nationwide, and more than a quarter of its 103 county offices in Kansas could soon be closed.

And that has raised concerns among the state's farmers, who say it could complicate their business.

"To lose that service would be a handicap," said James Congrove, a rancher and president of the Douglas County Farm Bureau.

Details of the plan are still unknown. Bill Fuller, executive director of the Farm Service Agency in Kansas, will go to Washington, D.C., this week to receive instructions. The Associated Press, however, reported that 27 Kansas offices could be closed.

James Congrove, president of the Douglas County Farm Bureau, feeds some of his cattle Friday at his home east
of Lawrence. The proposed closing of several Farm Service Agency offices in the state could complicate his business.

James Congrove, president of the Douglas County Farm Bureau, feeds some of his cattle Friday at his home east of Lawrence. The proposed closing of several Farm Service Agency offices in the state could complicate his business.

"We're kind of in the dark yet on this here," said Jack Salava, executive officer for the agency's state office in Manhattan.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican on the Agriculture Committee, said last week that he was still waiting to hear the agency's plans for Kansas.

"Until all information is received, it is difficult for me to comment on the plan," Roberts said. "However, during this time of increased input costs and additional strains on producers' bottom lines, I must be convinced that reduced offices will improve services to our producers before I could support the plan."

Congrove says the Farm Service Agency is critical to the business of farmers and ranchers.

"We use the local offices to help us out, getting advice and filling out forms to get the payments and comply with all the rules we need to," he said.

The shuttering of FSA offices, he said, could make it more difficult for farmers to obtain that assistance.

"It would certainly be less convenient to get the business done that we need to do," Congrove said. "It would mean more travel and more time, doing those types of things. It would be a concern."

Losing the Lawrence office, he said, would hurt.

"I know the local office here is very helpful with the producers," Congrove said. "I'm sure I would echo the thoughts of most producers in the county that they appreciate the help they get here.


DONNA 12 years, 5 months ago

Closing 27 offices would probably mean keeping one in Douglas County (Lawrence) and closing one in Oskaloosa (Jefferson County). Those offfices are what 12 miles apart. Sounds like a plan to me. Quit your whining and use your head farmers.

lilchick 12 years, 5 months ago

The two offices may not be that far apart, but the ease of being able to drive a maximum of 15-20 minutes to get to your Farm Bureau and deal with someone who actually knows you and your farm helps a lot. Farmers depend on this organization and being able to drive a short distance to take care of business in as small amount of time as possible, since they don't get sick days and often times have limited windows of time to sit in an office. Oskaloosa may not be that far from Lawrence, but if you are in the northern area of Jefferson County it would be around 45 minutes one way to Lawrence. With that amount of travel time, it would definatly hinder farmers from being able to find time to get the assistance that many need to survive in today's market. It sounds to me like you need to use your head and think before you start telling farmers to use their heads.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 5 months ago

Sounds like Reaganomics to me which only means no money will be saved just spent elsewhere like Iraq.

It's these kinds of bogus moves that gives taxpayers the impression that budget cutting is taking place when in fact the tax dollars are transferred and spent. Very typical Reaganomics aka nonsense accounting.

lilchick 12 years, 5 months ago

I'd like to hear how much Donna whines when food products are even more outrageously priced and more contaminated because of large corporations overpowering the small farmers due to lack of assistance out there. I hate when people are totally uneducated on how difficult it is for small operation farmers to survive but still feel the need to crap out of their mouths lines about them needing to use their heads. You try to figure out how to pay for a 100K(+) combine that's only gonna get used a few weeks out of the year. Oh, and there's the planter, the tractor to pull that, sprays, fuel for the machinery.......(this list could go on, but I think Donna should get the point) Farm Bureau helps farmers figure these things out, and how to feed their own family sometimes. I personally think they could cut money elsewhere before they proceed to continue to disable farmers in the state.

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