Farm Service Agency returns to John Day

Tracy Griffith poses for a photo in the recently re-opened Farm Service Agency office in John Day on Friday, Oct. 28. Griffith said it is her second week working in the office and she likes it so far.

The Farm Service Agency is re-opening a satellite office in at the Grant County U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Center in John Day.

The last agency office in John Day shut down in 2012 because of budget cuts, Grant and Baker County Executive Director Trent Luschen said, and the new office will help reduce travel time for those working with the agency.

“It’s going to be nice have that office open over there, it’s a lot more convenient so producers don’t have to drive as far,” Luschen said.

Luschen said demand from local ranchers and farmers spurred the office’s return, and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden’s office and field representative Kathleen Cathey helped facilitate it. In a statement, Wyden lauded the opening of the office.

“Oregon farmers have faced major challenges in recent years, including drought and raging wildfires,” he said. “That’s why I am so glad my work with Senator Merkley to reopen John Day’s Farm Service Agency has succeeded for farmers in Grant County, who deserve access to the kinds of assistance they need to keep their crops, livestock and businesses healthy.”

Program Technician Tracy Griffith will lead the office, which focuses on local needs.

“Food, feed or fiber is what our agency deals with,” Luschen said.

The agency helps communities with a variety of programs, including disaster recovery such as replanting trees and helping reconstruct livestock fences destroyed in the Canyon Creek Complex fire last year.

“It’s gonna be awhile before they have enough trees, so we’re gonna be working on that program for the next few years,” Luschen said.

Through its conservation reserve enhancement program, the agency works with landowners who have streams and rivers going through their property to help enhance the riparian areas by installing fencing and replanting native vegetation, Luschen said.

The office will also assist farmers with who grow crops private insurance companies typically do not insure. The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters, according to the ag department.

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