Clark farm office to close Jan. 1

Feds say closing was needed to save money, but local farmers worry about using London office.

The local Farm Service Agency will close Jan. 1, resulting in longer commutes for local farmers and cost the county thousands of dollars in revenue.

The Clark County FSA will consolidate with the Madison County office in London, which is located about 20 miles from Springfield. The move is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plan to close 259 offices and labs nationwide to save $150 million. When all of the offices close, FSA will have 2,119 remaining offices open.

The USDA pays the county $38,793 in rent for three offices, including the the FSA, the largest of the three offices. Administrator Nathan Kennedy said officials will negotiate a new lease with the agency when the FSA leaves and said the lease will be probably be “several thousand dollars” less than the current agreement.

State and local leaders fought to save the Clark County’s office after the USDA announced the cost-saving measure in January, but they learned in late May the decision would stand.

“We have tried to do everything we can to keep them here, but it fell on deaf ears,” Clark County commissioner John Detrick said.

Clark County’s FSA office is among five FSA offices in Ohio listed to close. Others offices are in Montgomery, Meigs, Carroll and Perry counties.

The local FSA office is currently in the county agricultural building on Gateway Boulevard. The office issued $9.5 million in program payments last year in a community that has an estimated 2,300 farmers.

Farmer Allen Armstrong of Green Twp. said the office closure will cost farmers time and money.

He said the Madison County FSA office in London is more than 20 miles from his home.

“We’re going to have a lot further to drive to report our acres and all the things we do. We understand the need to cut costs, however, with the number of farmers in Clark County, we thought other offices would close,” Armstrong said.

“They’re taking a pretty busy office and combining it with Madison County, which is also very busy.”

Juan Garcia, administrator of the Farm Service Agency, said the decision to close the office was due to budget cuts, staff reductions and other challenges.

“Although we recognize that change is never easy, we strongly believe that taking this action now is critical to ensuring FSA can continue to serve its customers as it adjusts to budget constraints,” Garcia wrote in a statement.

The Madison County FSA office can be reached by mail at 829 US 42 NE, London, OH 43140 or by phone at 740-852-4003.