The Kansas Natural Resources Conservation Service will close offices in 11 counties, following the same plan that the Kansas Farm Service Agency announced last month.
The NRCS is collocated at the USDA Service Centers affected in Cottonwood Falls, Coldwater, Olathe, Junction City, Howard, Yates Center, Medicine Lodge, Elkhart, Alma, Leavenworth, and Gove.
"With budgets becoming tight for federal agencies, USDA partners are trying to find ways to effectively and efficiently serve their clients and in NRCS's case, get more conservation on the land. As a USDA partner, it makes sense that NRCS and FSA locate together to serve their clients," says Harold Klaege, Kansas NRCS state conservationist.
FSA will hold public meetings in the counties where offices are proposed being closed. As with the FSA process, farmer and rancher records will be available in the county where the USDA Service Center is located or in an adjacent county, whichever is preferred by the producer.
"Regardless of the office location, farmers and ranchers should be assured that NRCS will be there to serve them and to provide the conservation technical assistance they want and to deliver the voluntary programs that Congress has authorized and funded," Klaege says.
The state conservationist adds that as farmers become more technologically advanced, NRCS can more easily accommodate them on their land and develop a conservation plan on site.
"This is how Hugh Hammond Bennett, the father of the soil conservation movement during the Dust Bowl days in the 1930's, envisioned conservation planning, by walking the land with the farmer or rancher," he says.
In Kansas, NRCS has an office in 103 counties. In December, the Sedan Field Office consolidated with the Howard Field Office.
NRCS and local conservation districts have shared office space and equipment and office staff since the passage of the Conservation District Law in the late 1930's. A steering committee made up of representatives from the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, the State Conservation Commission, the KACD Employees' Organization, and NRCS are working together to determine how local conservation districts will maintain a presence in their county when NRCS consolidates.