Pick up the phone to talk to USDA
As a precaution against spread of the coronavirus, the USDA’s local offices will conduct business by telephone only, and farmers will need to make an appointment for the transactions. “USDA field work will continue, with staff practicing appropriate social distancing,” said a USDA spokesperson over the weekend.
The USDA service centers often house Farm Service Agency and Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel at hundreds of locations across the country. While staff workers will report to their offices, “they will be working with our producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible,” said an announcement on USDA’s farmers.gov website.
In addition, USDA’s Rural Development wing, which provides loan and grants for rural economic development, said it switched to “enterprise-wide remote operational status” on Friday. “USDA Rural Development will not be modifying its operations, only the way we operate.”
Meanwhile, the USDA closed its offices at the Beacon Complex in Kansas City because an employee from South Dakota may have contracted COVID-19 during an FSA conference held at the facility, reported Agri-Pulse. Other federal agencies occupy space in the Beacon Center, according to Government Executive.