Enquirer Herald

York County Farm Service office will not close

The York County Farm Service office is not closing.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that York and five other locations did not meet the criteria for closing. The department is proceeding with closing 125 offices nationwide, including Allendale and Edgefield in South Carolina.

The Allendale office will consolidate with the Barnwell county office while Edgefield is consolidating with Saluda County. The other five offices not closes were in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Carolina and Oklahoma.

The criteria for closing included proximity to other farm service offices and the number of full-time employees. The department did not say what criteria the York Office failed to meet, said Laurie Lawson, director of the S.C. Farm Bureau.

The York office is about 27 miles distant from the Chester office where the USDA proposed consolidating operations. The proximity standard was 20 miles.

“This will be easier for most farmers in York County,” said Richard “Dickie” Harper, chairman of the county’s FSA committee. He also said this would be better for the employees of the York office, allowing them to be more efficient in their jobs.

Harper said he was surprised by the decision which was initially announced in January. About 40 farmers attending a meeting to protest the closure and many more wrote letters to Congress, Harper said.

Richard Roach, who was injured Monday when farm machinery touched a power line, was instrumental in contacting Congress, farmers said.

In evaluating the closure list the USDA said it considered public comments and other data in making its decision.