The U.S. Department of Agriculture will close 259 U.S. offices, facilities and labs, as well as seven foreign offices, in order to streamline operations and cut costs, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

When fully implemented, these actions along with other recommended changes will provide efficiencies valued at about $150 million annually, said the USDA in a statement. The actions and plans to close or consolidate facility, office and lab operations will impact USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and in 46 states and one U.S. territory. "The USDA, like families and businesses across the country, cannot continue to operate like we did 50 years ago," said Vilsack. "We must innovate, modernize and be better stewards of the taxpayers' dollars. We must build on the record accomplishments of farm communities in 2011 with a stronger, more effective USDA in 2012 and beyond."


Other recommended changes to improve efficiencies include consolidating cell phone plans; standardizing civil rights training and purchases of cyber security products; and centralizing civil rights, human resource, procurement and property management functions.