Budget Cuts Hurt Agricultural Schools

The University of Georgia is one of the latest institutes of higher education hit by the recession. Plagued by budget cuts, the school, like many others across the country, has been forced to cut jobs and research in order to deal with the budget gap. The most recent casualty of Georgia’s budget cuts is the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The CAES has been suffered with budget cuts over the last three years, but the university was able to prevent job losses through early retirements and other bureaucratic maneuvering. At this point, however, university officials say they can no longer stave off layoff and at least eighteen employees at the CAES are on the chopping block.

In addition, the school is considering selling a 522 acre agricultural research farm used by the college. While the state plans on asking potential buyers to lease the land to the university for the next three years in order to finish ongoing research projects, the sale of the farm represents a major blow to the university. In addition to the loss of the research farm, many of employees lost over the last few years worked as county extension agents, organizing 4-H clubs, helping rural residents, and serving the community. The loss of these employees combined with the loss of the research farm could jeopardize agricultural communities throughout the state, some officials say.

Georgia is not the only state facing agricultural cuts. In Pennsylvania, budgets cuts have threatened Penn State University’s agricultural college and could cost the state a valuable agricultural resource.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer