On past cuts, timing and being able to plan properly…

“In the past, reductions have come and we’ve dealt with them. But you need time to reorganize priorities, reduce or eliminate programs and give proper notice to people; make sure the local communities understand the consequences of the cuts. With enough time, those things can be done properly.

“But this move puts us in a very precarious situation. We don’t have a lot of options to make this at least appear to be something we’re doing with organization and a lot of thought.

“There’s a lot of concern in the calls I’m getting from constituents and ag leaders on this. I’m sure they’re making their views known to the congressional delegation, as well.”

Have you gotten any response from the Louisiana or Mid-South delegation on this? Or is it still early days?

“It’s still early. The vote on this was only taken last Friday (Feb 18).

“But I think the constituency is letting them know of their concerns. And it’s being expressed, I think, widely.

“Hopefully, by March 4, something a bit more workable will arise.”

Have you been in contact with your counterparts in neighboring states?

“Yes, we’ve had conference calls – throughout the country and the South. Everyone has the same dilemma with this mid-year cut.

“The sentiments are the same. We’ve all already reduced our staffs and budgets over the last several years. And we’ve used the federal funds to try and maintain the quality of the Mid-South programs.

“The Mid-South has already downsized and cut to the bone. We’re really down to our base priorities even without this cut.

“The thing concerning a lot of people is these base funds – Smith-Lever for Extension, Hatch Act for research, and a couple of other solid funding lines – are of the highest priority in all states. Those are the acts of Congress that have been providing the base funds we get.

“We match those funds at the local and state level – about six-to-one in Louisiana. And in the other states it’s probably at that level, or higher.

“Again, everyone is doing their part. We use those federal funds to justify and convince local governments and state legislators to give us dollars. It’s been a three-way partnership.”