As regular post offices are closed, the Postal Service says some can be replaced by contract post offices — smaller offices placed in a private business or a community center.
But Save The Post Office reports that the number of these offices has been declining recently. The Postal Service opens some, closes others. During the 2011 fiscal year, the Postal Service opened 144 contract offices, but closed 259. The very good post office blog continues:
But contract units have a number of problems, and their number has been steadily declining for a long time. In 1970, there were 7,241, and in 2010, there were 3,694. After the openings and closings in 2011, there are 3,519 contract units remaining. That represents a total decline of over 50%, and an average of about 90 closings a year.
The Postal Service didn’t say why so many contract units had closed, but the reasons aren’t a mystery. It’s difficult for the USPS personnel in the host post office to do proper oversight since they aren’t there on the premises of the CPU It’s sometimes even a problem collecting all the money that’s due to the Postal Service.
• We just found Life on a Kansas Cattle Ranch, a blog/diary kept by Debbie Lyons-Blyth.
The Topeka Capital-Journal wrote about the site and how Debbie came to start it:
The White City rancher and mother of five was talking with a relative at a family function, and the talk turned to hormones in milk and antibiotics in beef. Lyons-Blythe explained to a concerned relative that no milk is hormone-free and all beef is tested to make sure that there is no antibiotic residue in it.
“If she was just one generation away from the farm and has all of these questions and concerns, then how can I expect everybody else to understand it?” Lyons-Blythe asked. “That was my epiphany moment.”
Seeing it as her duty, she started her blog “Life on a Kansas Cattle Ranch,” http://kansascattleranch.blogspot.com.
“It’s not fair of me to expect people to know about this if we’ve never told them,” Lyons-Blythe said. “Farmers and ranchers do a terrible job of telling people what we do. We are too busy. So many of us are caught up in what we do, taking care of things. It is a 10- to 12-hour job a day.
“But if we don’t tell people what we do then they come up with her own ideas.”
• Former senator Bob Kerrey, the Nebraska Democrat, is buying property in Nebraska — but he says that doesn’t mean he will be running to replace retiring Sen. Ben Nelson.
A person must live in a state in order to represent it in the Senate.
• The U.S. cattle herd is the smallest it’s been since 1952.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that there were 90.8 million cattle and calves as of January 1, 2 percent lower than the year before. In 1952 (a rather dry time in many parts), the total was 88.1 million.
Domestic demand for beef is flat and feed costs are high. There is just no room to expand herds.
• DTN’s Urban Lehner asks if we should live in fear of N.Y. Times food blogger Mark Bittman. The answer is no.
• A National Journal writer asked some tech people what they thought of President Obama’s State of the Union Address and found some rural thoughts. Josh Smith writes:
Although Obama did not expand on broadband deployment plans announced during last year’s speech, National Telecommunications Cooperative Association Shirley Bloomfield said she was pleased that he recognized that an incomplete broadband system is undermining economic growth, especially in rural areas. The White House should look to small, rural telecom companies to help expand broadband access, she said.
“These technology leaders have demonstrated their tenacity and creativity in building network infrastructure that reaches every member of their communities,” Bloomfield said. “If we want to support innovation and ensure broadband connections, the administration needs to invest in these small businesses who make it happen in their communities every day.”
• The Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader is doing a series of stories over the next year about life at a horse farm.
January is foaling season and so Janet Patton’s first story is about the beginning of new life on the farm.
• In 2010, 13 states closed prisons. Virginia alone has shut 10, as the nation’s prison population has dropped for the first time in 40 years.
Many of these prisons were built in rural areas. They were sold to communities as steady sources of employment. Now towns and counties are finding that this steady source of jobs is wobbly. The Washington Post visits Boydton, Virginia, where a prison is closing.
• Scandal within the $2.8 billion a year deer hunting and breeding business.
• Home births have risen 29 percent from 2004 to 2009 in the U.S.
Not many babies are born at home, but the rate is going up — more in Oregon and Montana than anywhere else, reports the L.A. Times:
The sheer lack of transportation in rural areas may play a significant role in home births in some areas, the authors of the report stated. Cost might be a factor too, because home births are about one-third the cost of hospital births.
Most of the home births in 2009 were attended by midwives (62%), the report said. Only 5% of home births were attended by doctors.