WASHINGTON (AP) The Agriculture Department will abandon plans to close more than 700 local Farm Service Agency offices across the country because of widespread opposition in Congress.
In a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Agriculture undersecretary JB Penn said the agency is scrapping the plan.
Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas, whose district includes much of rural western Oklahoma, said the plan would've resulted in the closure of 19 of the 65 offices in the state and placed an unnecessary burden on farmers and ranchers in his district.
Governor Brad Henry said the offices are critical for linking farmers and ranchers to federal programs that are instrumental to the agricultural industry.
The department said its aim was to modernize a system dating to the 1930s and argued that farmers were getting poor service from offices hampered by understaffing and rustic technology.