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Levy can protest farm agency closing on Friday

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USDA proposal would send office to Trenton

By The Staff

Farmers and ranchers are being invited to attend a meeting on Friday, Feb. 3, at 10 a.m. to discuss a proposal to consolidate USDA Farm Service Agencies in the tri-county area into one office in Trenton.
The move is part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture move to trim its budget and consolidate 131 county offices in 32 states. The moves would leave more than 2,100 FSA offices remaining throughout the United States.
FSA has committees in each county that are chosen by the farmers and ranchers to handle issues on a local level and oversee implementation of USDA programs and policies for farmers and ranchers.
According to the agency's website, committee members make decisions affecting which FSA programs are implemented county-wide, the establishment of allotment and yields, commodity price support loans and payments, conservation programs, incentive, indemnity, and disaster payments for commodities, and other farm disaster assistance.
Levy County Coordinator Freddie Moody told the county commission on Jan. 17 that the proposal means “the local USDA agency is slated for closing.”
The agency pays the county $2,747 a month rent for the offices in Bronson and the commission unanimously approved waiving the rent  until June 2013 if it would help persuade USDA officials to keep the local office open. The move means the county would lose about $46,000 in revenue.
Tim Manning, state executive director for the Florida Farm Service Agency and members of his management team will hold the public meeting at the Levy County Agriculture Center conference room located at 625 N. Hathaway Ave., Bronson.
FSA’s public meeting will be the only one to take public comment on USDA’s proposed office consolidation plan in which the Levy County FSA office is being considered for consolidation and moved to Trenton.
Producers can also send written comment via emailto mark.cotrell@fl.usda.gov or sending a written comment to: USDA Farm Service Agency, P.O. Box 141030 Gainesville, FL 32614-1030 by Feb.13.
All public comments will be taken into full consideration prior to development or implementation of a final consolidation plan. For more information, contact the Florida FSA at 352-379-4500.