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USDA To Close 249 Offices, Affect Local Farms

Cutting 249 USDA offices -- half of which are small, local offices -- will only impact their annual spending by one percent.

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Photo: Kevin Dooley (Flickr)

With local offices shutting down, concerns that rural farmers will have to travel long distances to a USDA office mean potentially less participation in their programs.

The USDA will close 249 offices this year, including 11 in Indiana, and it will affect local farmers — but how will the move affect our food?

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the “cost-saving measure” Monday. Most of the closures affect smaller offices, often in rural areas.

Congress has been against the plan, demanding proof the shuttered offices were not needed.

Vilsack argued the closures will not affect food safety, and all meat processing plants will remain as they are.

National Farmers Union lobbyist Chandler Goule was dismayed, stating the move would negatively impact farmers.

Lack of access to local offices could dissuade farmers from using USDA programs.

Overall the cuts will only save the department one percent of their annual spending — but they are a sign of what’s to come when the new farm bill is drafted in 2012.

A list of impacted offices can be found here.

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Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Chicago. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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