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Ag advisors forced to move to save money

Cooperative Extension Fresno County is being forced to move after supervisors cut funding by about 40%.
Helping Fresno County farmers for 60 years, ag advisors are now being forced to move.

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors cut funding by about 40% and now the office can't afford to stay in their current building, which is right next to the Ag Commissioner's office.

Cooperative Extension Fresno County will move from Maple and Kings Canyon to the UC Building on Shaw and Highway 41.

Forty employees of Cooperative Extension are packing up and preparing for change. "Opened in 1953 and we are now moving after 60 years," said director Shannon Mueller.

Mueller worries about being far away from the ag commissioner's office and the effect it could have on local farmers, who enjoy the convenience of one stop shopping. "We work hand in hand, the regulatory with the education arm, to make sure that our ag industry doesn't suffer from some of these stressors that come through," said Mueller.

Acting Ag Commissioner Les Wright said, "That happens several times a day. They'll come over here to take a test... say for a pesticide applicators test, and they need to go next door for a study guide."

The move is a result of funding cuts from Fresno County. Instead of getting half a million, it will get $315,000, so they need to downsize office space to save on rent.

Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea said, "There's no question they provide a valuable service. Is it something that absolutely has to be connected to the ag department, physically? The answer is no. I mean, within the age of electronics and the ability access information."

The Cooperative Extension will be in their new location on Shaw beginning July 1st.

The one thing workers can't take with them is the on-site lab, so workers are storing the lab equipment until they are able to find the funding to establish a new one.
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