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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Possible Farm Service Agency merger yet to be decided

Thursday, August 2, 2007

(Photo)
The Clay County Farm Service Agency building at 951 W. Craig Rd. A possible merger with the Vigo County FSA may lead to the closing of this building and the opening of one off SR 46 and Interstate-70.
Although a decision hasn't been made yet, the Clay County Farm Service Agency may be moving.

State FSA officials met with farmers from Clay and Vigo counties Wednesday morning at the Clay County Fairgrounds to discuss the possible merger of the two entities.

State FSA Director Kenny Culp said a meeting was scheduled for today to go over findings statewide in regard to other state mergers. A state committee will then make its final decisions.

"I'm sure they won't make a snap decision," Culp told The Brazil Times. "We're kind of the messengers. It is not a done deal."

The purpose of Wednesday's meeting was to discuss the possibility of saving money for the Department of Agriculture with area farmers from both counties.

However, the farmers also had the opportunity to express concerns.

It's silly what we're talking about," area farmer Leon Mercer stated. "It borders on silliness."

State FSA officials told the farmers that the possible merger of both FSA offices in Clay and Vigo could save close to $95,000. The current proposal calls for the Clay office, 951 W. Craig Rd., Brazil, to be closed and merged with the Vigo office. A new office would be constructed off SR 46 and Interstate-70.

However, farmers at the meeting said they were concerned about several items, including travel time from farms to the office.

"We're hear to listen," Culp said.

Several Clay farmers also asked why the Clay office was the chosen office to be closed.

Clay County FSA Committee member Alan Stevenson said the local board had agreed to changes, but recently changed its mind after new information came to light.

"Since then, we've found that Clay County's workload is 12th in the state," Stevenson said. "We feel that, if joined, (the new office) needs to be at (SR 59 and I-70) because our workload is one and-a-half times more than Vigo County."

The workload of the Vigo County office ranks 76th in the state.

After hearing about the current workload for the Clay County office, several farmers asked why Clay County's office was selected to close.

"There's a lot of ideas," Culp said, again stressing that no decision had been made.

Clay County Commissioner Paul Sinders said he and fellow commissioners disagreed with the possibility of closing the Clay County office.

"We strongly believe the FSA office should remain in Clay County," Sinders said. "We maintain our present system is not broken. We are opposed to moving the office to Vigo County. To us, this does not make sense."

State FSA officials added that if both offices remain, a County Executive Director will be needed for both.

"They never told us that," Stevenson said.

Currently, CED Linda Justice is shared between both Clay and Vigo offices.

Officials added if the current scenario stays in place, there is a projected savings but it is minimal.

Culp said a decision is expected but no timetable has been set.



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