POMEROY — The Farm Service Agency office in Meigs County will be closed within the next few weeks and consolidated with the Gallia/Lawrence FSA office in Gallipolis.
While closing FSA offices in five counties in Ohio has been under consideration by the United States Department of Agriculture for the past several months, a final decision has now been made by that agency to move forward immediately on closing the offices in Meigs, Carroll, Clark, Montgomery and Perry counties. The process of closing the five offices will begin after the required notifications have been provided to producers, FSA employees and office landlords.
It had earlier been announced that the two employees in the Meigs office would be offered jobs in the Gallipolis office. Thursday one of the employees confirmed that both will be taking the offer.
As for the producers, FSA Administrator Bruce Nelson said the quality of service will not suffer.
“FSA places the utmost priority on ensuring that our services to producers remain strong as this consolidation process begins,” said Nelson. “The agency will provide farmers and ranchers affected by closures an opportunity to choose the most convenient neighboring county office with which to conduct their future business with the agency.”
As a federal agency, FSA has been affected by widespread budget reductions made by Congress, according to Nelson, who noted that since 2011, the agency has lost 1,230 permanent employees through voluntary early separation and normal retirement. In addition, he said FSA has been forced to reduce discretionary administrative expenses by over 30 percent in the last fiscal year alone.
The agency will provide Meigs County farmers and ranchers affected by closures an opportunity to choose the most convenient neighboring county office in which to conduct their future business with the agency. It was noted that even though there is a plan on where the FSA office workload will be moved, those in the affected counties will have the option to choose the office most convenient for them.
Producers on farms affected by county office closures will have 30 days from the date of the letter they receive notifying them of the closure to select where they want to carry on their FSA business.
The Meigs FSA office currently shares office space and some equipment with the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District located on Hiland Road in Pomeroy. When asked how the closing of the FSA office might affect the MSWC operation, Steve Jenkins, manager, said it probably means Soil and Water will have to relocate.