Tester’s message to Montanans regarding FSA office closures

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester today released the following message to all Montanans in response to the Farm Service Agency's plans to close seven FSA offices across Montana.  Tester's representatives are delivering this message during all public meetings being held to discuss the closures.

Friends and Fellow Montanans:

I wanted to share a few words with you all about the closure of seven of Montana's FSA offices.  Let me be clear: I do not support these closures.

I know firsthand how valuable FSA offices are.  I previously served as a Chouteau County committeeman on the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, which is now the FSA.  And I have repeatedly expressed my frustration to the Secretary of Agriculture and the director of the Farm Service Agency for not understanding the needs of Montana's farmers and ranchers.

There are many ways to increase the efficiency of the FSA and save money.  But this is not one of them.  Closing offices hurts Montana's agricultural producers.  And it will reduce face-to-face contact with FSA employees, making our producers drive long distances for service.

This decision isn't right for an agency meant to help our farmers and ranchers.  Other alternatives have not been thoroughly looked at, and these public hearings should have been held before a decision was made.

FSA office closures are part a national effort from an administration that is out of touch with rural America.  But know that I am doing everything I can to make sure farmers and ranchers have good access the resources they need.

And the fight to keep them all open isn't over yet.