Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Agriculture Department will close or consolidate about 260 facilities to save about $150 million a year. (Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images)
The Agriculture Department will close or consolidate about 260 field offices, facilities and labs by October to save about $150 million annually, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week.
In the Farm Service Agency, which oversees payments and loans to farmers, 131 county offices will be consolidated.
• 43 rural development area and sub offices.
• 31 Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services field offices.
• 24 Natural Resources Conservation Service soil survey offices.
• 20 Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) offices, including five in other countries.
• 12 Agricultural Research Service programs.
• Five Food Safety and Inspection Service district offices.
• Two Foreign Agricultural Service country offices.
"Even with these changes, USDA will still have a very strong presence in virtually all counties in the country, as well as around the world," Vilsack said in a Monday speech at an American Farm Bureau Federation meeting in Hawaii. The Farm Service Agency will still have more than 2,100 county offices, for example, while more than 560 APHIS offices will remain open.
The department is also cutting costs by consolidating more than 700 cell phone plans into about 10 and standardizing civil rights training and purchases of cybersecurity products.
The anticipated savings amount to less than 1 percent of the department's discretionary budget of almost $22 billion this year.
USDA is taking the steps following a review under the Obama administration's "Campaign to Cut Waste."