Della Rocco said FSA offices targeted for closure fall under criteria laid out in Congress’ 2008 Farm Bill. Offices located less than 20 miles from another FSA office or offices with fewer than two full-time employees were in jeopardy, he said.
Since Della Rocco already splits his time between the Albany and Schoharie offices, and a second employee took early retirement in November, there will be no job loss associated with the closure.
The impending inconvenience of switching offices is farmers’ biggest gripe, said Tom Gallagher of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, but he’s concerned they’ll stop taking advantage of certain FSA programs simply because they don’t have extra time to spend traveling to Schoharie or Rensselaer.
“Before we were all in one hallway; farmers are busy, they’re all short on labor, so now they’re going to have to make two trips to get the same thing done they get in one,” said Gallagher. “They may not bother to possibly sign up for some available programs.”
The FSA runs programs addressing conservation, emergency/disaster assistance and commodity and helps famers with insurance and loans.
Gallagher works with new farmers to narrow their farming vision and match them with FSA programs appropriate for their type of farm.
“We’re the educational arm; we walk through if they want beef or goat … to grow or sell hay,” said Gallagher. “There are different programs related to all these things through FSA.”
In Schoharie County, the FSA and Cornell Cooperative Extension aren’t housed in the same building, which is an added concern for Gallagher.
“They can’t do one stop shopping there. I’m just afraid,” said Gallagher.
For more information, contact the Albany County FSA office at 765-2326.