Facing a shrinking budget, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has outlined moves – including the closure of 259 offices, facilities and labs under the USDA umbrella – to save some $150 million annually. Some of the closings have been announced previously.
The shuttering of the USDA offices, made under a plan titled “A Blueprint for Stronger Service,” was unveiled during a speech that Vilsack delivered at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 93rd annual meeting. He told the assembly that since 2010, Congress has reduced USDA discretionary spending by nearly 12%, or more than $3 billion.
As a result, “some agencies were reduced more than others. Agencies facing steep cuts, specifically in their salaries and expense line items that fund personnel, included the Farm Service Agency, Rural Development, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Agricultural Research Service and the Food and Nutrition Service.”