Editor’s note: The following letter was received by Judge Dominick Olivito Jr. from Cong. Bob Gibbs (R-18th District) in response to the proposed closing of the Carroll County Farm Services Agency (FSA) office.
Thank you for contacting my office regarding your concern about the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposing to close the Carroll County Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. As your Representative in Congress, I appreciate your input on this important issue.
As you know, on Jan. 9, 2012, the USDA announced their blueprint for Stronger Service plan. This plan includes shutting down 249 various offices around the country.
The Carroll County FSA was one of the 131 FSA offices that the USDA has proposed to close. In the 2008 Farm Bill, which sets agriculture policy, there was language included that mandated that if the USDA needed to close offices, they must close ones that have two or less employees and are also within 20 miles of another office.
Since the 2008 stipulations, the USDA has been compiling data on which offices meet this criteria. Unfortunately, they determined that the Carroll County office fits both of these qualifications and have proposed that the Carroll County FSA office merge into the Tuscarawas County FSA office.
On Feb. 2, 2012 the FSA held a public meeting in Carrollton to give the people of Carroll County a chance to voice their concerns. Although I was in Washington, DC at the time, I did have a staff member there to ensure I had all the up-to-date information.
It is my understanding from the USDA that once they complete these nationwide public hearings they are going to reevaluate their choices to see if any changes need to be made. After they have compiled all the feedback, Secretary Vilsack will provide Congress with 30 days notice of their final list of offices that are going to close.
As a farmer I understand how important local FSA offices are to our agriculture community. I have sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack urging him to reconsider the closing of the Carroll County FSA office. I have included a copy of that letter for your review.
Currently, Congress is waiting for the USDA to send the final list of closures. If you have any specific questions regarding service I would recommend contacting the Ohio FSA office directly at 614-255-2441.
Member of Congress