John T. Fuston, State Executive Director for the Texas Farm Service Agency (FSA), today announced that USDA has approved the Agency's plan to close 11 county offices identified in part two of a multi-faceted, statewide streamlining initiative.

According to Fuston, Texas FSA received the letter of approval signed by Acting Secretary of Agriculture Charles Connor on November 16. "After considering fully, all public input on this issue and adjusting our plans as deemed appropriate, our final proposal for this phase of our restructuring plan was issued to and approved by Acting Secretary Connor."

Receipt of Secretarial approval to proceed with the office closure plan means that as of November 16, 2007, the clock started ticking on a 120-day period in which Texas FSA begins the administrative and strategic processes required to close a county office. "Numerous logistics must be considered before we can close any one office; let alone 11 offices. We are targeting mid March 2008 as the official closure timeframe," said Fuston.

Phase I (part two) of Texas FSA's restructuring plan calls for the following county office realignments:

· Angelina/Trinity County (Lufkin) FSA office will be closed and the new headquarters will be in Nacogdoches County (Nacogdoches).

· Cass/Marion County (Linden) FSA office will be closed and the new headquarters will be in Harrison County (Marshall).

· Crockett County (Ozona) FSA office will be closed and the new headquarters will be in Reagan County (Big Lake).

· Jefferson/Orange County (Beaumont) FSA office will be closed and the new headquarters will be Liberty County (Liberty).

· Kent County (Jayton) FSA office will be closed and the new headquarters will be Dickens County (Spur).

· Kimble County (Junction) FSA office will be closed and the new headquarters will be Kerr County (Kerrville).

· Menard County (Menard) FSA office will be closed and the new headquarters will be Concho County (Eden).

· Panola County (Carthage) FSA office will be closed and the new headquarters will be Harrison County (Marshall).

· Presidio/Jeff Davis County (Marfa) FSA office will be closed and the new headquarters will be Brewster County (Alpine).

· Shelby County (Center) FSA office will be closed and the new headquarters will be Nacogdoches County (Nacogdoches). Note: This move applies to Commodity Program Operations only - Farm Loan Programs will continue to be administered out of Shelby County.

· Sutton County (Sonora) FSA office will be closed and the new headquarters will be Schleicher County (Eldorado).

By early January, producers, landlords for FSA business office locations and affected employees can expect to receive written correspondence from FSA management regarding the process for closing FSA offices in Texas.

"Upon receipt of their letter, producers will have 60 days in which they can elect to move their respective business records to a county 'of their choosing' if a county other than the default headquarters location is more convenient," Fuston emphasized. "However, after this window of opportunity has expired, all producer records in the county slated for closure will be automatically transferred to the new headquarters of record."

According to Fuston, the original plan for this phase of the restructuring process called for closing 12 County Offices. However, after thorough review and careful consideration of supporting facts, the five-member Texas FSA State Committee voted in favor of Van Zandt County remaining operational.

"Our employees do an outstanding job under our current structure with the resources available to them, but I believe that realigning our agency will, in the end, prove beneficial to our employees by maximizing agency resources and to our customers through improved customer service."

For more information, contact Brenda Carlson at (979) 680-5213.