Farm Service Agency employees from across the country have named Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., their Clyde R. Payne “Legislator of the Year” for his work in keeping more than 700 county FSA offices open in 2005.

The offices were slated for closure under Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns' FSA Tomorrow Plan that would have shuffled employees among and shuttered 713 of the FSA's 2,353 county offices.

Representatives of the National Association of Farm Service Agency County Office Employees said its Clyde R. Payne Legislator of the Year Award is named in honor of the organization's founder and first secretary. It had not been awarded since 2002.

“It's an honor to be recognized by the many dedicated employees of the Farm Service Agency,” Pryor said during the NASCOE award ceremony in Washington. “Without the hard work and sacrifice of local FSA employees, many family farms would not have the resources necessary to make a living and provide America a safe and affordable food supply that we all too often take for granted.”

Pryor said he sponsored legislation, along with Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., to prevent the latest round of office closings that would have included 24 in Arkansas.