Under a plan released Thursday by the Kansas FSA office, 11 county Farm Service Agency offices will consolidate with adjacent county offices in a statewide move to increase efficiency.
Offices slated for closure and consolidation include:
- Chase County (Cottonwood Falls) will be consolidated with Lyon County.
- Comanche County (Coldwater) will be consolidated with Clark County.
- Johnson County (Olathe) will be consolidated with Miami County.
- Geary County (Junction City) will be consolidated with Riley County.
- Elk County (Howard) will be consolidated with Greenwood County.
- Woodson County (Yates Center) will be consolidated with Wilson County.
- Barber County (Medicine Lodge) will be consolidated with Pratt County.
- Morton County (Elkhart) will be consolidated with Stevens County.
- Wabaunsee County (Alma) will be consolidated with Pottawatomie County.
- Leavenworth County (Leavenworth) will be consolidated with Atchison County.
- Gove County (Gove) will be consolidated with Logan County.
Bill Fuller, state executive director of Kansas FSA, says the goal of restructuring state offices is to more effectively use facilities, staff and technology within the state's USDA budget allotment.
"This process started in March 2006 when three FSA Stakeholder Meetings were held across Kansas to allow stakeholders to outline their expectations and present recommendations, while receiving information on Kansas FSA programs, structures, and challenges," he says.
A 15-member Review Committee, consisting of managers, program technicians, district directors and farmers, considered input, selected criteria and developed recommendations.
When the review began, there were 103 Kansas FSA County Offices with 32 of those being shared management offices. This restructuring plan will eliminate shared-management resulting in reduced travel expenses, increased efficiencies and offices that are more fully staffed.
Fuller submitted the proposed restructuring plan to the FSA national office in December 2006. After approval, Fuller traveled to Washington D.C. to inform the members of the Kansas Congressional Delegation whose districts will be impacted by the proposed office consolidations.
Public meetings will be scheduled in counties where consolidations are proposed. Announcement of these meetings will be provided to the media and advertised in the affected counties. The restructuring plan can be revised if new information or considerations are heard at the public meetings. Fuller will meet with FSA employees and FSA County Committees in affected counties prior to the public meetings.
These public meetings will be scheduled by March 19; closure cannot occur within 120 days of the Feb. 15 announcement, according to federal statute, says Trish Halstead, public information officer for Kansas FSA.
Halstead adds that producers affected by the closure will be notified of the office closings by mail. The producers then have 30 days to let Kansas FSA know to which office they prefer to send their records.
"Many criteria were considered including staffing ceilings, budget, workload, dollars delivered to producers and borrowers, office efficiency, population, land use, trade centers, distances between offices, building conditions and costs, agency partners, transportation, and demographics," Fuller says.
Producers doing business at the affected counties may opt for an administrative headquarters in any contiguous county office, he adds. "The current county committees will determine whether the new combined county committee will have 3 or 5 members, and establish new local administrative area boundaries for the new multi-county area."
The Kansas FSA County Office Restructuring Plan can be obtained on the Internet at www.fsa.usda.gov/ks.