Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Postal Service and Small Farms

Did you know?

Small, local farms like ours rely on the US Postal Service to deliver the chicks they raise for egg layers, broiler chickens, turkeys and any other bird a farm might raise.  The majority of small, diverse, local farms do not hatch their own chicks simply because it is just one more thing to do that often can't be added to a long list of things to do on a farm.

Did you know?

UPS and Fedex will not ship chicks.

Do you prefer to see farms that have poultry and care for those animals well?  Are you interested in maintaining a local food system?  

Guess what people?  The moves to cripple the US Postal Service are likely to cripple many small businesses - many of them located or amenable to rural areas in Iowa.

I suppose you could argue that if the USPS is dismantled, someone will take their place.  You could argue that UPS or Fedex or... someone will pick up the chick mailing business.  But, I can tell you these things:

  • It will be more expensive - expensive enough to either cause a farm like ours to significantly raise prices and/or expensive enough to cause a farm like ours to cease working with poultry altogether.
  • There will be a transition period where no one will be able to move these birds and small businesses and small farms will likely cease to operate before it is repaired.

Don't think this is really happening?

Go back to the link I provided and read.  Our post office and sorting facility in Waterloo, Iowa is having equipment removed and is not being staffed sufficiently for OUR mail to be handled in a timely fashion.  The volume of mail is so vast that even a short period where the USPS cannot keep up will result in significant delays for you and me.

Other considerations for the USPS in rural areas

It has always been true that things like telecommunications and delivery services are far less profitable in rural areas than they are in more densely populated areas.  It is simple mathematics.  If you build the infrastructure for a delivery service in a city, you get more customers per unit of cost for your base expenses.  Once you get into the wide-open spaces, you have fewer customers available, but you still need much of the same infrastructure to serve an area with fewer sales possibilities.

Why do you think it is taking so long to get reliable internet in the rural parts of Iowa?  The expense is greater than the returns for the relatively small number of customers.  Most companies delayed providing access until they received government support to add access.  

It is not right that rural citizens of this country should be left out of the communications and services loop.

Crippling the US Postal Service is a terrible blow to the rural areas.  We are already behind when it comes to most other services.  But, when it comes to the post - we have had a system in place for over a century that delivers to all addresses, six days a week - for a very reasonable price.  We currently have nothing in place to stand in that gap when the postal service is removed or damaged.   

Did you know?

Small farms such as ours find that shipping seeds from seedhouses is most economical via the US Postal Service?

This is why we need a system that receives government support in some fashion so it can absorb the losses required to provide a system that works for ALL citizens in the country.  In the case of the postal service, it might do just fine if we removed the hurdles placed on it by the federal government.  It isn't even a matter of providing support - it's a matter of at least getting out of the way!

Stand Up for the US Postal Service

There are many more reasons why the moves by the current federal administration need to be opposed.  I want you to take note that I am not even citing any specific political reasons here.  I am simply pointing out that these changes have the potential to further damage Rural America's necessary services.  It should not matter what side of the political fence you think you sit on.  What should matter is that the current trend is taking away important options and services that many of us rely on - and we should not accept it.

  • We still pay our bills using the mail.  Why?  Well, until very recently, we didn't have sufficient internet service to use online banking.  We did not have much of a choice.  And, we actually feel there is more security in using the mail versus an online app.
  • Many small businesses rely on the US Postal Service for reliable and inexpensive shipping of their products.  Collectibles, skilled creation products and numerous other personal or small businesses need the US Postal Service to stay in business.  The Fedex and UPS rates are too high for these low to moderate price and low overhead businesses to remain viable.
  • What about our veterans and others who use the postal service for the delivery of their medications?  Delays are already causing people to go without important medications.  
  • what happens if you are not at home for a Fedex or UPS delivery?  You could drive to their office and get it.  For us, that is a 45 minute drive.  USPS?  5 minutes to the post office.
  • The infrastructure for mail delivery and post offices ALREADY EXIST.  They just need to be maintained by a sufficient number of qualified and properly paid employees.  If we allow the infrastructure to be dismantled, then we have a big climb to get it back.  And, remember, Fedex and UPS probably don't have much incentive to build that infrastructure because the financial returns are not strong.

It is time to make some noise about yet another thing.  This matters to the people of rural Iowa and it should matter to you.

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