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Thune's FSA Amendment Passes Ag Committee With Bipartisan Support

Thune's Provision is Stronger than the House-Passed Version

October 24, 2007

Washington, D.C. —  The Senate Agriculture Committee today agreed to include Senator Thune's FSA office closure amendment to the Committee's markup of the 2007 Farm Bill. Senator Thune is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Thune's amendment would prevent the closing of "Critical Access FSA County Offices." Critical Access FSA County Offices are defined as county FSA offices that were proposed for closure during Calendar Year 2007. Offices that were proposed for closure during 2007 and are in close proximity of another FSA office, or have zero full-time equivalent employees would still be allowed to close under this amendment. Critical Access FSA County Offices would remain open for the life of the 2007 Farm Bill (five years) unless Congress approves of the closures.

The House-passed Farm Bill includes a 1-year moratorium on all FSA office closures with the exception of those offices with zero employees.

"This amendment provides a longer-term solution to FSA county office closures relative to the House-passed Farm Bill. Keeping these Critical Access FSA County Offices open over the life of the 2007 Farm Bill will ensure producer service in remote rural areas and provide economic stability to affected towns and rural communities," said Thune.

Over the past three years, FSA has twice attempted to reduce and consolidate county offices across the country. In 2005, the "FSA Tomorrow" proposal was delayed by Congress through the FY 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. Earlier this year, FSA again proposed closing more than 200 county offices across the nation, including three in South Dakota.

In March of this year, Senator Thune was the first member of Congress to introduce legislation that would delay any potential FSA county office closures. After months of working with colleagues in the Senate Agriculture Committee and FSA national leadership, Senator Thune's long-term solution to FSA county office closures has been added to the Senate's 2007 Farm Bill.