The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) late Monday released what it calls its Blueprint for Stronger Service, a widely anticipated overhaul of the agency's operations, which among other changes will close 259 domestic offices, facilities and labs across the country and seven foreign offices. The plan is expected to save the agency about $150 million annually, USDA said in a news release.
"Blueprint for Stronger Service [is] a plan that helps producers continue to drive America's economy by streamlining operations and cutting costs," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said, in the release.
The office closings include:
The Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center in Beaver, W.Va., is on the closure list. The American Sheep Industry Association and its state members worked to change the decision about closing the Beaver center, which provides a vital service for sheep production in the East.
A complete list of locations being consolidated is at www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=blueprint_for_stronger_service.html. Vilsack noted that services are not to be cut.