Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Cooperative Extension Service is dealing with budget cuts in many states; more expected

The recent cuts that the University of Tennessee recently announced in its Cooperative Extension Service are the latest in a series of cuts at land-grant universities across the nation, the weekly Washington newsletter Agri-Pulse notes today.

"Budget shortfalls also have forced cuts in extension rosters and program offerings in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio in the past two years. Like at Tennessee, administrators at some other land-grant universities are making the tough decisions now given the looming expiration of federal stimulus funding and continued bleak state and local budget outlooks. California, for example, is considering replacing its statewide network of county offices with regional locations to help offset another $1 million reduction this year in taxpayer support," Agri-Pulse reports.

Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Florida, told the newsletter, "Extension remains extremely important to the land-grant system, but it simply doesn’t have the money to maintain the infrastructure.” Extension services are using the Internet more, but some farmers don't have broadband access and "still prefer the touch and feel of 'hard copies' of information, countered Stan Moore, an extension dairy educator from Michigan who serves as president of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents," Agri-Pulse reports. Reflecting the shift to regional offices, "NACAA has 3,200 members nationwide, down from a peak of about 4,000 a decade ago." Agri-Pulse is a subscription service but offers a four-week trial. The site is here.

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