Proposed cuts to ag and 4-H unacceptable

Published 8:35 pm Friday, March 5, 2010

Due to the announcement from the University System of Georgia concerning their portion of cuts to be made in order that the state be able to balance its budget, I felt I should make a statement.

Because the State of Georgia must operate off a balanced budget, the economic downturn of our nation dictates that either programs financed through the state must be cut or there must be tax increases for all our citizens.

The Georgia General Assembly is having to ask every arm of government to do their part.

This nationwide downturn has put every state into a dire economical situation, which must be dealt with.

We in Georgia are doing everything possible in order that taxes would not be raised in these times when people are hurting financially.

The unemployment rate is the highest since the Depression and is still on the rise. With the cuts that the University System of Georgia has proposed, the unemployment rate in Southwest Georgia will rise even higher.

The proposed cut to the University of Georgia in Athens is $58 million to $60 million, which comes to 12.8 percent of their annual budget. In my estimation, the Georgia Extension is being asked to take the brunt of these cuts, which amounts to 20 percent of their total cuts. The fallout from such cuts to just one arm of the USG system is devastating.

One of those programs happens to be the end of the 4-H program, which I believe is one of the finer programs in our educational system.

I was personally a 4-H member and cannot express adequately the impact it had on my future.

Georgia 4-H students have a high school graduation rate of 92 percent in a state where only 78 percent of all student graduate high school. The loss of 4-H would have detrimental effects on Georgia and its students for years to come.

It is my understanding that state funds supporting 4-H equate to less than $53 per student. What a small price to pay for such results in the lives of 4-H students.

These cuts would mean also closing half the county extension offices and our experiment station at Attapulgus. Also the Stripling Water Research Center in Camilla is proposed to be closed. With our state water issues this would be detrimental and make an impact on our agriculture in Southwest Georgia, which is our largest industry.

In my opinion the University System of Georgia’s recommendation to target Cooperative Extension Service and agriculture is unacceptable and reflects a lack of leadership at the highest level.

I hope each of you will contact the following: Chancellor Errol Davis; 270 Washington St., SW; Atlanta, GA 30334; (404) 656-2202; e-mail, chancellor@usg.edu.