The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to close its Food Safety Inspection Service office in Lawrence, part of a larger plan to save the department $150 million annually.
The announcement came Monday evening from Tom Vilsack, USDA secretary, as he outlined a “Blueprint for Stronger Service” that calls for operational cuts and the closing of 259 offices, labs and other operations spanning 46 states, a U.S. territory and the nation’s capital.
The Food Safety division is closing five of its 15 district offices, including the Lawrence office at 4920 Bob Billings Parkway. The closings are to occur in phases to be completed by Sept. 30, 2013.
The division describes itself as responsible for ensuring that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.
USDA said that both improved technology and work-share agreements had reduced the need for having 15 district offices.
“The USDA, like families and businesses across the country, cannot continue to operate like we did 50 years ago,” Vilsack said, in a statement announcing cuts and closures throughout the department. “We must innovate, modernize and be better stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars.”