WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2013 – Rural and agricultural advocates slammed the Postal Service’s decision to move to five-day deliveries yesterday, and said that cuts would be especially harmful to rural America.

“We are disheartened to hear the USPS’s announcement that Saturday mail deliveries will cease later this year,” said National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson in a statement yesterday. “The impacts on rural America will be particularly harmful.” Johnson cited the loss of “good-paying postal jobs,” and said that newspaper delivery and deliveries to rural businesses would be deeply affected.

“Rural businesses do not need this economic blow delivered via the mailbox,” he said.

The National Grange also “blasted” the decision, singling out Congress for “its failure to provide reforms.”

“The Grange has strongly urged USPS to continue six-day-a-week mail service so rural Americans - who often don't have access to high-speed internet used by those in urban and suburban areas to conduct professional and personal business -wouldn't suffer,” National Grange President Ed Luttrell said Wednesday.

National Grange Legislative Director Grace Boatright said elderly and less mobile Americans living in rural regions could have trouble getting their medication. 

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, D-IL, whose district includes some rural areas, said the Postal Service’s decision “is a blow to communities across our region of Illinois. Time and again, I’ve heard from small business owners, seniors, and others in both small towns and big cities in my district that Saturday mail service is crucially important to them.”

The Postal Service estimates that moving to five-day delivery will save it $2 billion a year – after losing $41 billion over the past six.

Despite the outcry, the decision seems to have bipartisan support. President Obama urged the Postal Service to move to five-day deliveries at the beginning of his first term, while Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla. Asked Congress to omit the six-day mail rider “from any subsequent government funding legislation, enabling the Postal Service to implement this necessary reform without impediment.”

Lawmakers failed to pass postal service reform last Congress – while Senate leaders passed a measure in April, House GOP leaders failed to bring a bill to the floor.

The Postal Service, for its part, regrets the decision, but sees five-day delivery as an unfortunate necessity in a county that would rather use the Internet to pay bills and send messages.

“We cannot put our head in the sand and say, ‘Well, jeez, let’s hope this problem goes away,’” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said yesterday at a news conference. “Hope is not a strategy.”



For more news, visit www.agri-pulse.com