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April 7, 2002

State cuts mean reduction in Extension, animal health services

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – If the state funding crisis is not addressed, cuts to the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service and Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory will reduce family services and leave the state vulnerable to animal disease outbreaks, said Victor Lechtenberg, dean of Purdue's School of Agriculture.

"We could lose as many as 20 to 25 Extension educators across the state," Lechtenberg said. "The ADDL also expects to reduce staff significantly.

"At a time when Indiana faces greater concerns over biosecurity and a need for increased economic development and youth services, we need our state leaders to know these cuts will hurt the citizens of Indiana.

"We'll try to meet the Extension reduction through staff attrition and the elimination of some programs, but we can't rule out the possibility of layoffs or office closings. Such drastic cuts will mean we can't meet our responsibilities."

The 7 percent reduction in state-funded line items ordered by the governor directly affects county offices and field staff in Extension and the ADDL on campus.

Purdue Extension educators provide services to youth through traditional 4-H clubs, other youth programs and classroom curricula. Other Extension services include programs on nutrition, parenting, finances, economic development, farming and environmental stewardship.

The ADDL staff reductions would include a veterinary diagnostic pathologist and virologist, as well as at least three support staff positions and an undetermined amount of student help. The ADDL is the primary laboratory safeguard for animal health in Indiana.

"With these reductions, we will lose our capacity to respond to an animal emergency or health crisis without seriously compromising other services provided by the ADDL," Lechtenberg said.

County Extension offices and staff are funded through a combination of state and county funds, a cooperative effort that ensures university expertise addresses local priorities.

Purdue Extension director David Petritz said county funding pays for about 60 percent of the field staff budget.

"County governments made Extension support a priority over the last five years and the reduction in state funding could undo a lot of their work," Petritz said.

Lechtenberg said the state funding shortfall in Extension cannot be made up by other government entities.

"We are grateful to the county governments who have steadfastly supported Extension in the past. We know they have done much to maintain Extension services for youth, families, communities and farmers," Lechtenberg said.

Writer: Beth Forbes, (765) 494-2722; bforbes@aes.purdue.edu

Sources: Victor Lechtenberg, (765) 494-8391; home: (765) 583-0247

David Petritz, (765) 494-8489; cell phone: (765) 427-1203

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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