But the service's value isn't always an easy sell, Knutson wrote, especially when government budgets are dwindling. South Dakota State University's extension director Barry Dunn told Knutson budget issues forced a restructuring of the service in many states. "We have to prove ourselves every day, that we really are the safe, trusted, unbiased, scientific place to go for information," Dunn said. North Dakota, Minnesota and Montana's services say they don't plan to restructure. Extension officials in at least four states say they are offering more online services for farmers.
Extension services in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Montana all say they will lose millions in funding if federal sequestration happens at the end of the year. They're also facing staff shortages as baby boomers begin to retire, with the trend being more pronounced in North Dakota where 32 county positions were filled within two years. (Read more)