SD Corn supports decision to reorganize Extension Service

The South Dakota Corn Growers Association (SDCGA) and South Dakota Corn Utilization Council (SDCUC) announced today that they support a plan to reorganize the South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service in response to a serious budget shortfall.
“With a $1.3 million budget cut and 95 percent of the budget spent on personnel, something has to give,” said Gary Duffy of Oldham, SDCGA’s president. “They last reorganized the extension service 13 years ago. In those 13 years, we’ve had cell phone service, Internet, Facebook, Twitter. All of this technology has come on line. Now we’ll use technology to do more with less, or do the same with less. I commend the committee for what it has done. We’ll be using technology for the benefit of the producer.”
With technology, a farmer can stand in his field and use his cell phone to take a picture and email it to an extension specialist, Duffy said. The specialist often can address the producer’s concern long distance, saving considerable road time. In cases where a specialist needs to visit a site, that’s still an option.
Duffy also supports a plan that emphasizes the development of learning communities.
“By having regional centers, there’s an education role that goes with it. Producers will be able to go to one of seven sites and learn things from several people on crop production, animal production or whatever is offered,” Duffy said. “It becomes a plus when you can hear not just from one person, but several.”
Duffy said a steering committee studied what other states are doing with their extension services and gathered ideas that South Dakota can incorporate.
Bryan Jorgensen of Ideal, who is chairman of the SDCUC Research Committee and works closely with SDSU, said Barry Dunn inherited a difficult financial situation when he became dean of the College of Agriculture a little more than a year ago. The SDCUC endowed the dean’s chair.
“Not only do we have state budget cuts, but federal budget cuts at the same time,” Jorgensen said. “Any time you have a $1.3 million or $1.4 million budget shortfall, it definitely impacts any entity’s ability to do what it needs to do.”
Jorgensen said Dunn put together a good steering committee to develop the best approach in resolving the budget situation and how to make the Extension Service better and more effective.
“This doesn’t come without pain, but in the long run it will be a much leaner and meaner machine at the end of the day,” he said.
“I think it needed to change. What they have outlined in the changes, albeit painful, I think will be a very good change in the long run and will streamline the process,” Jorgensen said. “I think the regionalization of extension offices is a very good move. First of all, it takes their specialists and field specialists and combines them, and it makes those fewer offices a lot more powerful. It only makes sense to regionalize those offices and empower those offices so they have the ability to transfer data in a much more efficient manner.”
Jorgensen said most farmers carry smart phones, have desktop computers and can even download information while they’re working in the field.
 

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