Tom Shoop | January 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

USDA to close hundreds of offices

Julie Jacobson/AP

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled a plan Monday to overhaul and streamline the department's operations, an effort that will involve closing hundreds of USDA installations around the country.

Under the plan, known as the Blueprint for Stronger Service, the department will close 259 domestic offices, facilities and labs in the United States, and seven foreign offices.

They include the following closures:

Agriculture officials said that many of the offices slated for closure are no longer staffed or have very small staffs. They said the consolidation of offices, along with other actions, would save about $150 million each year.

The department said that further savings would ultimately come from "future realignment of the workforce." A USDA spokesperson said, "all permanent full-time employees will be given options to stay with the department, and we are doing everything feasible to minimize the impact on employees. These decisions were not made lightly."

"The USDA, like families and businesses across the country, cannot continue to operate like we did 50 years ago," said Vilsack. "We must innovate, modernize, and be better stewards of the taxpayers' dollars."

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