Budget Cuts May Kill 4H in Georgia

Nobody’s doing well financially at the moment, except maybe for those cheerfully resilient fellas over on Wall Street. In the grand statehouses, particularly in Atlanta, lawmakers are pulling out their last silver strands trying to balance an increasingly unwieldy budget.

Now comes words that in an effort to cut $300 million from the state’s ledger, University of Georgia president Michael Adams has proposed eliminating the state’s 4H program entirely. Perhaps even more significantly, half of Georgia’s county extension personnel would be sacked.

Without a doubt, this action would mean an incredible loss to the agricultural community. Local extension agents are the mainframes of farming and gardening knowledge. They provide critical outreach in the implementation of better cultivation practices, and for many, such as myself, they are the first resource when it comes to questions about everything from killing bermuda grass to removing aphids from an okra row to pruning an overgrown muscadine vine.

Hopefully, Adams is playing politics with lawmakers. Once representatives realize that budget cuts to the extension service will affect voters and jobs in their districts, hopefully they’ll back down.

Hopefully. I can’t imagine how I would get along without Billy Skaggs or Amanda Tedrow to pester.

An excerpt:

Eliminate all Georgia 4H Programs; this will eliminate 116 filled positions including 94 County 4H agents.

$6,304,861

In addition to requiring 116 immediate layoffs, including 94 County 4H agents, this action would require the closure of (5) 4H facilities across the State including Rock Eagle. The UGA 4H educational youth development programs reach over 156,000 young people on an annual basis. A minimal security and custodial staff would be retained at each facility to protect the State’s property investment until a disposition plan could be developed and executed.

Close ½ of UGA’s County Extension Offices; this will eliminate 169 filled positions.

$5,000,000

The UGA Cooperative Extension Service provides educational programming, information delivery and hands on technical assistance in support of the agriculture industry in Georgia. Agriculture and agribusiness is Georgia’s largest industry, contributing $92 billion annually to the state’s output. Closing one‐half of the Extension Service Offices would close 79 offices around the state, would result in 169 immediate layoffs, and would severely curtail the University’s ability to support this significant economic sector.

Eliminate the State Botanical Garden; this will eliminate 29 filled positions (state and nonstate funded).

$875,688

The closing of the Garden will reduce research and instructional opportunities for students as well a eliminate the outreach programs designed to increase public involvement in gardens. A minimal security and custodial staff would be retained at each facility to protect the State’s property investment until a disposition plan could be developed and executed.

Close Georgia Mountain Research & Education Center, Blairsville; this will eliminate 8 filled positions.

$351,178

Testing of agronomic and ornamental crops for their ability to survive in cold temperatures, essential information for sustaining Georgia’s agriculture, will no longer be available. Community engagement focused on education, public service and outreach regarding important north Georgia issues; (i.e., native species preservation, youth development, environmental quality) would no longer be available for enhancing and engaging life quality.

Of course, I’ve left out information relating to the Georgia Press, the Georgia Review and the Georgia Museum of Art, all of which might suffer significant cuts themselves.

The full proposal: Impact of 300M additional cuts

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