USDA Secretary announces consolidations within department
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the realignment of a number of offices within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in order to improve customer service and maximize efficiency. The actions involve innovation, consolidation, and the rearrangement of certain offices into more logical organizational reporting structures. The changes build on the reorganization Perdue announced in May. As with the previous realignment, today’s announced restructuring comes with the intention of handling any staffing changes through attrition or reassignment.
“On my first day as secretary, I told our employees that I wanted USDA to be the most effective, most efficient, and best managed department in the federal government. These changes will move us further toward that goal,” Perdue said. “We are already providing our customers with great service, and our career professionals are among the best in the federal government, but we can be even better. This realignment represents further progress on the improvements to USDA we made earlier this year, and will help us better meet the needs of farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers, while providing increased accountability to American taxpayers.”
The realignment announced in May reconstituted and renamed a mission area headed by the Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC). Under the newly-organized FPAC mission area, the Farm Service Agency (FSA), the Risk Management Agency, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service were realigned to report to the renamed Under Secretary. The improvements announced today make changes to some programs to fit them into more logical places to help better coordinate service to USDA customers.
Rather than have commodity procurement in multiple agencies of the USDA, the International Food Commodity Procurement program currently in the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will merge into the domestic Commodity Food Procurement program in the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). This action will consolidate commodity procurement activities across the USDA and allow for greater efficiencies in the acquisition of commodities.
Also, instead of having commodity grading and inspection in multiple USDA agencies, the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) will be merged into AMS. Currently, GIPSA and AMS both carry out grading activities and work to ensure fair trade practices. Specific to fair trade practice work, the new structure will contain a program area composed of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act Program and the Packers and Stockyards Program, as well as some other regulatory activities AMS is currently directed to carry out. In addition, this new program area will have the responsibility to carry out Warehouse Act functions currently being provided by FSA. The grain inspection activities will become a separate program area in AMS. These improvements will provide a unified USDA presence focused not on programs, but on customers and the services they are provided.
In addition, FPAC is currently undertaking a customer engagement review to better understand what is working and what needs improvement so that USDA can best support farmers and producers today and in the future.
Other areas that have been consolidated or reorganized include trade, rural development and nutrition efforts.