Just in from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

The USDA will "close

259 domestic offices, facilities and labs across the country, as well as seven

foreign offices," the agency announced Monday.


Secretary Tom Vilsack broke the news on the USDA's Blueprint

for Stronger Service

, a plan devised to help the department "innovate,

modernize, and be better stewards of the taxpayers' dollars," at American

Farm Bureau Federation's 93rd Annual Meeting.

According to a

news release following his comments:


actions and plans to close or consolidate facility, office and lab operations

will impact USDA headquarters in Washington and in 46 states and 1 U.S.


Here are some

more additional details from the release.:

  • Farm Service Agency (FSA):

    Consolidate 131 county offices in 32 states; more than 2,100 FSA offices

    remain throughout the United States

  • Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS):

    Close 2 country offices; more than 95 FAS offices remain throughout the


  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection

    Service (APHIS): Close 15 APHIS offices in 11 states and 5 APHIS offices

    in 5 foreign countries; more than 560 APHIS offices remain throughout the

    United States and 55 remain throughout the world

  • Rural Development (RD): Close 43

    area and sub offices in 17 states and U.S. territories; approximately 450

    RD offices remain throughout the United States.

  • Natural Resources Conservation

    Service (NRCS): Close 24 soil survey offices in 21 states; more than 2,800

    NRCS offices remain throughout the United States

  • Food Safety and Inspection Service

    (FSIS): Close 5 district offices in 5 states; 10 district offices remain

    throughout the United States

  • Agricultural Research Service (ARS):

    Close 12 programs at 10 locations; more than 240 programs remain

    throughout the United States

  • Food, Nutrition and Consumer

    Services (FNCS): Close 31 field offices in 28 states; 32 FNCS offices will

    remain throughout the United States

In addition, USDA is implementing a

series of other changes that will save taxpayers' money while eliminating

redundancies and inefficiencies. The Blueprint for Stronger Service details 133

recommendations that affirm processes already in place, as well as 27 initial

improvements, and other, longer-term improvements. The initial improvements

include the following:

  • Consolidate more than 700 cell phone

    plans into about 10;

  • Standardize civil rights training

    and purchases of cyber security products; and

  • Ensure more efficient and effective

    service to our employees by moving toward more centralized civil rights,

    human resource, procurement, and property management functions, creating

    millions of dollars in efficiencies without sacrificing the quality of our



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