AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 -- (House of Representatives - August 02, 2007)
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Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I rise this evening to address two important issues that USDA provides in serving my farmers and ranchers in Kansas and across the country, the desire to see that those services are provided at the local level.
The first issue, although not very glamorous, is very important. It is the funding of nondiscretionary FSA technology expenses. This winter, many of my producers went to their local FSA office only to discover the computers were not working. In many instances they had to set aside all of the other computers so they could try to allow the farmers to access the computer system and sign up for the programs. The delays were for months.
In the President's budget, $23.8 million was requested for fixed IT operating expenses. Those operating expenses are required to operate and maintain FSA's existing computer system. In this bill the committee only appropriates $10 million. FSA does not have a choice in paying its fixed IT operating expenses. If sufficient funding is not appropriated, FSA will be forced to reduce its staff to keep its IT system operating, and I believe that would adversely affect the services provided by our local offices.
The second issue is our NRCS county offices. The bill we are considering today has two provisions halting county office closures for NRCS's sister agencies, FSA and Rural Development, RD. The primary reason for delaying county office closures is we are currently in the midst of writing a new farm bill. And while I am glad to see that this bill addresses the FSA and RD office closures, I would also like to see the same approach taken with NRCS.
I look forward to working with the chairwoman and the ranking member and I would ask for the chairwoman to enter into a colloquy with me to indicate her interest in this topic.
Ms. DeLAURO. I am very interested in working with you, as we have talked about in the past, and will continue to do that as we move forward.
Mr. MORAN of Kansas. I thank the chairwoman and look forward to a successful conclusion.
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