Jerauld County's FSA office to closeWESSINGTON SPRINGS — By the end of July, the Jerauld County Farm Service Agency office in Wessington Springs will be closed, along with three others in the state.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
WESSINGTON SPRINGS — By the end of July, the Jerauld County Farm Service Agency office in Wessington Springs will be closed, along with three others in the state.
The state FSA office announced recently that the Jerauld, Jackson, Harding and Campbell county FSA offices would close and consolidate files with neighboring counties.
Craig Schaunaman, state FSA executive director, said Campbell County will close earlier than the other three.
“Campbell County will close June 18. That office did quite a bit of work with Walworth County already,” he said.
Letters notifying producers of the closure in Wessington Springs will go out this week, he added.
FSA files in Jerauld County will automatically transfer to Sanborn County’s office, unless a producer requests the files go to another county, Schaunaman said.
The state FSA office announced in early January that the four offices were being considered for closure. The announcement caused controversy and efforts to save the offices.
The FSA administers farm commodity, crop insurance, credit, environmental, conservation and emergency assistance programs for farmers and ranchers.
Schaunaman said the deciding factors in closing each office were that the offices are within 20 miles of another county office and have two or fewer employees.
“That was the criteria set out in the farm bill,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D. introduced legislation in March to combat FSA office closures. She said in a statement Monday she’s concerned about how the U.S. Department of Agriculture approached the process.
“In some cases, the department ignored guidelines set out in the last farm bill intended to ensure producers didn’t have to drive excessive distances to reach another FSA office,” she said in a statement.
Noem’s legislation would have clarified that the 20-mile standard should be measured by driving, not “as the crow flies.” It would have impacted Jackson County’s office, which is about 23 miles from another FSA office, but not others such as Wessington Springs, as it is about 16 miles from the office in Woonsocket, according to Noem’s office.