USDA Confirms Closure Of Molino Farm Services Office

May 31, 2012

Despite an outcry from farmers and producers in Escambia County, the USDA announced Wednesday that the Molino Farm Services Agency office will close.

The Molino FSA Office administers farm commodities, crop insurance, credit, environmental conservation and emergency assistance for farmers and ranchers in Escambia County. With the closure of the office, farmers will be forced to drive to Milton or Brewton for FSA services.

The process of closing Molino and five other FDA office will begin immediately. After the required notifications have been provided to producers, FSA employees and office landlords, closure dates will be established and made publicly available according to the USDA.

“The agency will provide farmers and ranchers affected by closures an opportunity to choose the most convenient neighboring county office with which to conduct their future business with the agency. In addition, all employees in a closing office will be provided an opportunity to continue their work with FSA,” FSA Administrator Bruce Nelson said.

In February, farmers and producers from across Escambia County met in Molino with Tim Manning, FSA state executive director, with pleas to keep the office open.

Manning (pictured) said that offices with two or less employees and offices that were located within 20 miles of another office were targeted for closure. Manning (pictured left) said that on December 23, the day chosen as a “snapshot” of the Molino office, it met both criteria for closure.

But multiple farmers and producers were quick to point out that it is more than 20 miles to drive from Molino, or areas like Walnut Hill or Nokomis, to the FSA office in Milton because of limited routes across the Escambia River. And the criteria for two or fewer employees, many producers said, was met only because a third employee in the office had recently retired.

We all understand that government must be a good steward of our tax money,” Escambia County Property Appraiser Chris Jones said at the February meeting. Jones, a timber producer in Escambia County, pointed out that the Escambia County FSA office was the third busiest payment office in the state. “Sometimes you have to weigh those dollars against those that fund it…to put the human factor in it.”

“We are the last in Florida, the last county,” Jones said, “and sometimes we get left out of a lot of things.”

The major savings from closing the Molino Farm Service Agency will be about $16,000 per year in rent to the Escambia County Farm Bureau for office space along with telephone service. All other utilities are included in the monthly rent.

“The federal government is broke; we all know this,” Walnut Hill farmer Brett Ward said. “But we in ag are willing to do our share. But let’s make smart cuts.This is my opinion, in our opinion, is not a smart.”

“Our job to feed and clothe this nation is hard enough,” Ward added.

“We have pleaded for assistance,” Charles Woodward of Molino, former director of the Molino FSA office, said. “Can’t we get the people where the work is? We have been given a lot of lip service and we have done with very little.”

“Why aren’t we doing more at the FSA to get more food produced at the local level?” asked James Long. “Where are you going to get your food next week? This bunch right here.”

Mike Godwin of Walnut Hill suggested that perhaps instead of closing the Molino office, the Farm Service Agency should use it as a nationwide model of doing more with less since the number of payments processed per employee is now the highest in the state.

“We understand the impact these decisions have on communities,” State Director Manning said. “You will continue to find that FSA services are accessible and convenient.”

Pictured top: Dozens of farmers and producers packed a meeting about the Molino FSA Office in February at Highland Baptist Church in Molino. Pictured below:  The Farm Service Agency rents office space in this, the Farm Bureau Building in Molino. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.

Comments

12 Responses to “USDA Confirms Closure Of Molino Farm Services Office”

  1. Southerner on May 31st, 2012 8:13 pm

    I am glad for the closure. The current socialistic system is unsustainable and unconstitutional.

  2. Rufus Lowgun on May 31st, 2012 4:42 pm

    That’s what happens when you cut budgets. We’re all having a big time at the tea party until something we like gets cut, then we start screaming about how it’s all Obama’s fault. If you voted Republican, this is what you voted for. Happy?

  3. 429SCJ on May 31st, 2012 1:09 pm

    Richard thank you for pointing that out.

    Jeff Miller has been in office over ten years now, may be time to clean house on him as well

    I am an Independant, I say send them all to the gallows, republicans and democrats, vote em out of office.

  4. David Lamb on May 31st, 2012 11:46 am

    OH BTW Obama wastes more than $16,000.00 everytime he cranks AF ONE.This government studies the mating calls of evry animal and other rediculous studies and cant afford $16,000.00 for rent onOffice space!!! How much is spent in Milton? Look at the FSA expense accounts for wining and dini9ng? maybe an eye opener!

  5. david lamb on May 31st, 2012 11:36 am

    I havent lived in Escambia County since i left for duty in USAF in1968. I now live south of Omaha,NE in Cass County.
    I have a question.. Shouldnt FSA offices be where the majority of AG producers live and work? Last I knew Milton was growing with asphalt and buildings. Maybe an FSA office there is better for the Dept of AG to have their fine dining and recreation @ expense of Farmers/Ranchers. Makes more sense for FSA to be in Molino, Davisville, Jay, Walnut Hill., but Milton? Dont understand that logic. It would be like putting an FSA office in downtown Omaha for Ag producers 30 miles away!

  6. Richard on May 31st, 2012 10:45 am

    This closure (and others) is a direct result of cuts proposed and voted for by Republicans. Not President Obama, but Republicans. If you want to blame someone, blame Jeff Miller, that’s right, Representative Jeff Miller.

    Remember who didn’t represent your interests when you vote for in November.

  7. 429SCJ on May 31st, 2012 9:15 am

    There has been an Ag Ext Office in Molino way before most of the nay sayers were born. Why is it a problem now.

    Yes Taxpayer there are a few so called armchair gentleman farmers looking for a tax shelter, but if you drive through the northend, you will see large scale agri projects underway, that feed us and others. That is what the USDA is about, promoting and supporting agri bussiness on all scales. Supposed to be anyway, I had better read their mission statement just to be sure.

  8. dgh on May 31st, 2012 8:57 am

    Obama’s fault? What happened to all the ‘anti-government’ support for cutting programs? I thought most of you would be for this since it is tax dollar supported.

  9. Taxpayer on May 31st, 2012 8:44 am

    I bet if you look at the parking lot of this meeting it would be a bunch of king ranch F250 king ranch edition trucks. Drive to milton? Well at least they will do it with a ag exempt truck to go get thier ag welfare money.

  10. M on May 31st, 2012 5:33 am

    Part of “Hope and Change”?

  11. 429SCJ on May 31st, 2012 5:31 am

    Tom Vilsack Sec of Agriculture, appointed by Barrack Obama.

    When Obama is voted out, Vilsak will go as well.

  12. 429SCJ on May 31st, 2012 5:22 am

    Identify proponents for closure and vote against them!





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