Most, But Not All, USDA Offices Reopen After Threats Against Employees

The Beltsville Agricultural Research Center is one of the facilities that was closed on Tuesday, but has now reopened with additional security. The Beltsville Agricultural Research Center is one of the facilities that was closed on Tuesday, but has now reopened with additional security. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Most of the offices the Agriculture Department closed on Tuesday due to threats against personnel and facilities reopened Wednesday, though some remain shuttered indefinitely.

All but the Forest Service and National Resource Conservation Service offices in Hamden, Conn., and the department facility in Leetown, W.Va., reopened Wednesday. The remaining offices at four different locations across the country will welcome employees back to work but maintain “enhanced security,” including the presence of law enforcement or security personnel on site.

USDA released no additional details about the nature of the threats, saying only it is continuing to work with the FBI and other law enforcement entities to assess their credibility. The sites that remain closed will reopen “as soon as possible,” according to USDA spokesman Matt Herrick.

“We continue working to ensure these offices will be ready to reopen, safely and securely,” Herrick said. He added: “For those remaining offices, a bit more time is needed either to get additional security enhancements in place for a safe and secure opening or to make official notifications to union representatives.”

Herrick did not, however, give a specific timetable for when those processes will be completed.

USDA closed offices at six locations across the country on Tuesday due to emailed threats to multiple employees, sending home workers at eight different department components. In an email from notifying them of the closures, Secretary Tom Vilsack gave employees the option to either telework or take paid administrative leave.

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