Books are treasures, libraries are too
Books mean a great deal to many of us.
Several of our staffers carry a book wherever they go. If they have to wait for an appointment, they read their book. When they wait for food at a restaurant, they read a book.
At least one reads a book during his lunch break and eats at his desk. Of course, we at the newspaper like that people read; and, we especially like when they read our paper.
But right now, we’re experiencing a loss of access to books. No, it isn’t censorship. It’s budget cuts at the library.
Not too long ago, you could go to the library six days a week. They weren’t open all day on Saturday; but, they were open for several hours.
There was also one night a week, when each of our three libraries stayed open later than usual, until 7 p.m. The libraries’ late night was different for each one.
Not only can you check out library books, you can check out movies. They also have some magazines you can read while you’re there.
They have reference books with tons of historical data and all kinds of other information.
They have books for your children to help them learn to read or enjoy reading. They have books with bedtime stories to read to kids at night.
They have mysteries for teenagers like Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. They have comedy books, research guides and books on American history.
They have how-to books on a variety of interesting things – how to draw, how to play a musical instrument, how to study, how to grow healthy houseplants, how to play chess and all sorts of things. If you want to learn how to do something, look in the library. It just might be there.
They have a bank of computers with internet service. You can use those, too.
Very helpful for students and job searchers without internet at home.
So, now, with budget cuts from the state and no one else able to step up, as it were, our libraries close for lunch and close on the weekend. Each branch in Jefferson County is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., closing from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. for lunch Monday through Friday.
Before the reduction in hours, staff had to take furloughs.
Many agencies, businesses and services are cutting hours or staff or both.
We know times are tough. Times are tough for families and individuals, too.
We expect a lot from our government. Some might argue we expect too much.
Georgia Budget & Policy Institute (GBPI) states in an overview of the state’s 2014 fiscal year budget, “The 2014 budget increases general fund spending by $518 million more than the 2013 fiscal year plan … At the same time, the plan cuts several hundred million dollars to agencies throughout state government that provide services.”
There are infrastructure problems throughout Georgia. It seems every agency and department is feeling the strain; and, yet, GBPI points out a significant increase in spending.
Come on, folks. We can do better than this.
Honoring America’s farmers, deadline approaching
For more than 40 years we have celebrated National Ag Day as a time to pause and honor the American farmer. Today, our farmers are the most productive and efficient in the world with each one helping to feed more than 144 people. We thank you, as well as everyone who plays a role in producing the food, fiber and fuel our country and the world depends upon.
This year National Ag Week was March 15-21 and was highlighted by National Ag Day on Wednesday, March 18.
March 31 is another very important date in March we want to remind farmers about. This is the last day to make several important choices on federal safety net programs that could make a big difference for their farms through 2018.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) is urging farmers and landowners across the nation to finalize their decisions by March 31 on updating crop yield histories and reallocating base acres for new safety net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill, known as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Updated yields and base acre reallocations could help improve a farmer’s potential to recover payments when a weather disaster or unexpected changes in the marketplace negatively affects their income.
March 31 is also the last day to decide which program – ARC or PLC – is the right one for their operation; each program provides unique protections. The best choice will depend on factors specific to their individual farm.
FSA, in cooperation with a number of universities, has provided online Web-based tools, found at www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc to help make this important decision. The online tools have already helped more than half a million farmers so far.
If you have not yet considered your PLC or ARC options, take the time today to explore the web tools and then contact your FSA county office if you have questions. Celebrate Ag Day and Ag Week with the peace of mind knowing your farm will be protected as you make plans to enter the fields this spring.
If you don’t make a decision by the March 31 deadline, then you will be assigned Price Loss Coverage, the default program, and lose payments for losses incurred in 2014. However, if you complete your ARC or PLC election by the deadline, you will be protected against 2014 price or revenue losses.
Don’t let this opportunity slip by. Finalize your yield or base acre decisions, complete those conversations between landowners and producers, and conduct your final reviews to determine how ARC or PLC can help you. Avoid that end-of-the-month rush, and make an appointment today. Your Georgia FSA county staff is standing by ready to help.
Fred Harrison, Jr.
USDA Georgia FSA