Closing selected county Farm Service Agency offices in Texas will allow the organization to use limited resources more efficiently.
“We are concerned about the cost of service and the quality of service,” said Jerry Harris, a Lamesa, Texas, ginner and chairman of the state FSA committee.
Harris told members of the Texas Cotton Producers Association during the recent national Cotton Council annual meeting in Austin, that the Texas FSA intends to maintain all offices with three or more employees.
“We’ll keep some with two or more, but a two-person office is handicapped because programs are so complex.”
Harris said most appeals come from small offices. “We need to put people where the work is,” he said.
Eliminating offices would allow the state committee to target resources where they are most needed. “For one thing, we need to improve our computer system,” he said. “It is outdated. At one time FSA has the second largest computer system in the country.”
But that system was installed back in the 1980s and is incapable of handling the current volume of work. He said farmers often have to wait several minutes for program pages to turn.
Harris cited some 12 or more county FSA offices that currently have either zero or one employee. Some of those offices open only once a week. “They cost a lot of money to maintain,” he said, and are open only because of (state) congressional pressure. We need support to close these offices. We need to close them to be fiscally responsible.
“No one likes to close an office and we understand that elected officials are pressured to keep offices in their areas open. Some are virtually closed already and are not providing service.”
Harris recommended that Texas Cotton Producers Association members contact state legislators and urge them to allow the state FSA committee to reorganize the agency. “We need to develop the best process possible to utilize the resources we have available.”