The Biden Administration’s requirement that all federal employees, including the employees of the Farm Service Agency, be vaccinated against COVID-19 will not cause FSA offices to close or farmers to receive a less-than-usual level of service.
The Hagstrom Report says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack made that statement last week during a House Agriculture Committee hearing. Representative Vicki Hartzler of Missouri mentioned to the secretary that she’s afraid the reluctance of some employees to get the vaccine might cause FSA offices to close, or at worst, have to provide a lower level of service than farmers have come to expect. She asked Vilsack if he had considered exemptions to the vaccine requirement, to which the secretary said there are exemptions for both religious and health reasons.
Vilsack also said during the hearing that, “We will do what we need to do to keep offices open. I don’t anticipate we will see a significant number of closed offices.” Vilsack made the comments while testifying at a hearing on the state of the livestock industry, where he presented testimony on USDA’s efforts ranging from developing an African Swine Fever vaccine to the assistance available for producers and companies affected by COVID-19.
The National Association of Farm Broadcasting and the American Farm Bureau Federation contributed to this report.