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USDA Closing 11 Mississippi Offices

By Rhonda Miller | Published 11 Jan 2012 09:06pm | comments
The USDA plans to close the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in Gulfport.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is closing 11 offices in Mississippi. MPB’s Rhonda Miller has more on the cost-cutting measure.

On a busy Gulfport road between the port and Interstate 10 is a group of one-story brick-and-tan buildings, surrounded by a wall with locked gates.  This is one of 11 offices in the state USDA is shutting down. It’s the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, called APHIS. Inside the gate, Anne-Marie Callcott says there are four different operations on the site.

"The group here that I am involved with does chemical analysis on environmental samples that support APHIS programs, and develops treatments for the imported fire ant quarantine," says Callcott.

The USDA saya the 19 employees who work on the fire ant quarantine program, and in the other units, will be offered relocation to offices in Biloxi or Miami.

Employee relocation is standard procedure for the USDA plan to close more than 250 offices nationwide.

Eight of the offices to be closed in Mississippi are Farm Service Agency locations in Ashland, Ackerman, Hernando, Fulton, Coffeeville, Monticello, Raleigh and Purvis. State Director Michael Sullivan said the wide range of Farm Service programs will continue.

"Conservation programs, improvement of water quality, programs related to field crops, also we offer emergency loans during these disaster times, certainly, but also in the normal course of business, we offer loans," Sullivan says.

Another closing is a Food and Nutrition Service office in Jackson, one location that handles the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

A Rural Redevelopment office in De Soto County is also scheduled to close.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a media phone conference  Tuesday the changes will not cut down on food safety inspectors.

"We’re still going to be in every single plant. The inspectors will continue to do the work that they’re doing in those plants. And it will have no impact whatsoever on our responsibility to insure the safety of the food supply in the United States," said Vilsack.

Public hearings will be held in the areas where offices are expected to close.

 

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The USDA plans to close the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in Gulfport.


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