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Legislatively Speaking
Legislatively Speaking: Grange opposes postal changes

By Alma Graham, Legislative Director

  OCTOBER 2, 2011 --

The US Postal Service (USPS) has made it known that they are experiencing a financial crisis.  Congress cut funding to this agency a few years ago so the USPS does not get any taxpayer monies but it is still heavily regulated by Congress.  Due to these Congressional controls USPS is not able respond as quickly to current market trends like UPS and FedEx can.  

  One of the cost cutting methods that the USPS has recommended is the closing of 3700 smaller post offices across the nation.  Those smaller post offices take in less than $27,500 annually.  USPS has suggested closing or consolidating some of these smaller post offices and/or replacing them with "Village Post Offices".   These Village Post Offices would offer limited services and be found in locations such as grocery stores.  Some post offices could be consolidated but for many rural and remote areas this is not a reasonable option.  Connecticut has 15 post offices on the closing list.  Most are in larger urban areas but three are in rural areas.  These are Ballouville (Killingly), Forestville (Bristol) and Gilman (Bozrah).   The Granges in those areas may want to look at these locations and determine the impact of losing these rural post offices.  

The National Grange has already come out opposing the closing of these rural post offices.  They recommend that reforms be made to stabilize the USPS to prevent further closings.  The Grange was one of the driving forces in creation of the Rural Free Mail Delivery and we need to protect this vital rural service.  Some critics have suggested that the only way the USPS can survive is to be funded by Congress or be allowed to operate as a private entity.

Another item that National Grange has been watching is a proposal by the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) for new safety standards.  These proposals could have required the reclassification of all motorized farm equipment, from tractors to cattle haulers, as Commercial Motorized Vehicles.  This would have required all farm workers to obtain CDL licenses to drive these vehicles on public roads.  Had USDOT imposed these new rules, the impact to day to day operations of farmers would have been far reaching.  

The USDOT requested public comment on their proposed standards.  More than 1700 individuals and organizations responded to this inquiry expressing their concern.  They requested that the agricultural community be exempted from their proposal.  People testified that it would create undue hardships in transporting products to market and in general operations.  

The USDOT listened to the concerns of the agricultural community and stated that they had “no intention of instituting onerous regulations on hardworking farmers.”  They noted that most states have already adopted common sense enforcement policies that allow farmers to safely move equipment around their farms and transport products to markets.


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