|Updated: 2/02/2012 5:42 pm
||Published: 2/02/2012 5:07 pm
CONWAY, AR - When farmers in Faulkner and Perry Counties have questions, they go to the Farm Service Agency office in Conway. Problem is, that office may be closed by July, meaning the closest alternative office would be about 20 miles away in Morrilton.
As a result, farmers attended a public meeting at the Conway office Thursday to protest the proposed closure. Most sounded like Richard Boosey.
"When we come to Conway there's normally a list of six, seven, eight stops," he said, "and those businesses don't exist in Morrilton."
The short answer as to why the Conway office is on the chopping block is simple.
"The reasoning certainly is budget driven," said Farm Service Agency Representative Linda Newkirk. "We've been cut since 2008 continually."
The long answer is a little more complicated. The 2008 Federal Farm Bill says an F.S.A. office can be closed if it's within 20 miles of another office, in this case Morrilton's office, and if it has two or fewer employees, the Conway office has two.
Other county offices around the state could also consolidate, not just the Conway and Morrilton offices. It's a big concern for farmers, gardners and ranchers like Boosey, who says come July, he will not make that trip to Morrilton.
"I leave here I'm going to a hardware store, i'm going to a pharmacy, i'm going to grab lunch somewhere in Conway," he said. "You move this, there's nothing to do like that in Morrilton."
The F.S.A says if the Conway office is closed, the two people who work there will be given the opportunity to transfer.
There are 61 F.S.A. offices in Arkansas, 10 of them are at risk of being consolidated.