The State Executive Director of the U-S-D-A Farm Service Agency (F-S-A) in Iowa says he’s been told he’ll have to close over 20 offices. Derryl McClaren says the closings and subsequent consolidation of the closed offices into other offices will end up impacting around half of all the F-S-A offices in the state. He says he was told to consolidate 22 offices and 31 offices have been identified as the “most vulnerable.”
McClaren says if he pairs up the counties two-by-two, then he’ll be dealing with at least 44 counties. The 31 counties identified by federal officials are most vulnerable are in these counties: Adams, Allamakee, Appanoose, Bremer, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Clarke, Davis, Des Moines, Dickinson, Emmet, Hardin, Humboldt, Jones, Lee, Lucas, Madison, Mills, Mitchell, Monroe, Montgomery, Page, Ringgold, Sac, Scott, Taylor, Union, Van Buren, Wapello,Winneshiek and Worth. He says the neighboring counties will all be part of the process as they determine how to combine offices.
McClaren says he’s in the early stages of implementing the consolidation.
He says right now he’s disseminating the information to the public and will also have to get the information to the employees, and then he can start looking at the offices and see where the combinations make the most sense. McClaren says the federal government hopes to save money in the move. He says, “The effort is driven by a desire to become more efficient in the information age. To uh, take available budgetary dollars and have a planned obsolescence in terms of the computers and the equipment, which gets to be a costly items in terms of servicing the infrastructure.”
The F-S-A distributes farm subsidies and loans for the federal government. McClaren says that mission won’t change, although it could take more time in some counties. He says the same services will be provided, but the producers will have to drive a greater distance to do their business, unless they do it over the web. He says the agency is probably two years away from going fully web-based. McClaren says he doesn’t have an exact timetable when he expects to have the consolidation completed. He says, “They were rather cloudy in terms of the directions given to us when they expect this to be completed. But the calendar year 2006 has been emphasized.” McClaren says he wants to keep the process out in the open and keep everyone informed as the process moves along.