House Ag Republicans and Democrats are not sure USDA is doing the best job it can implementing Farm Bill and disaster aid programs put in place by Congress.  FSA staffing is a key concern of lawmakers.  House Ag Chair Collin Peterson brought up the decades-old issue with Undersecretary Bill Northey at a recent hearing on progress implementing the Farm Bill and Disaster Aid.


“We had 11,500 people working at FSA offices in 2004," Peterson questioned.  "Today, we have 8,500. I would argue, we have more work today, than we had in 2004.”


Peterson challenged Northey to say if the administration asked for extra staffing dollars.  Northey wouldn’t say.


“We have our process of being able to sort through the priorities at USDA, and through the president’s budget, as well." Northey said.  "As you all have your priorities, and what you need to work through.”


Republicans also had their concerns. Georgia’s Austin Scott complained about USDA’s delivery of disaster aid.


“I am concerned with USDA’s economists’ estimates. I am concerned, and I would suggest that this committee…this cannot take a year, the next time somebody goes through a storm, the way the state of Georgia, did. My people would not be farming today, but for a loan program, through the Georgia Development Authority.”


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