U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is unveiling a plan for massive cuts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The proposal calls for closing nearly 260 labs, offices and other federal ag facilities in 46 states, including at least four closures in Iowa.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s still studying the lengthy list. “I’m going to have to look at the impact that it has on Iowa,” Grassley says. “I think we have four or five county offices closed in Iowa and one, I believe, soil conservation office that’s closed in another county.”
Secretary Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, says the closings will save the U.S.D.A. about 150-million dollars a year. The agency’s total budget tops $145-billion. Vilsack released a statement saying the U.S.D.A. must “be better stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars.”
Grassley says he’s not sure if he’d support Vilsack’s plan. “I don’t know what the impact is, but I know that probably because we’re going to have to save money, it’s got to come from someplace,” Grassley says. “What I’m looking at is how this impacts Iowa and is it fair to Iowans and can the farmers be serviced the way they should be.”
In Iowa, the published list of proposed closings includes three Farm Service Agency offices in Centerville, Leon and Creston, and a Natural Resource Conservation Service office in Fairfield. Vilsack says many of the offices slated for closure have few workers or are located close by other offices.
It’s still unclear how many jobs would be impacted.