May 2, 2012


By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The U.S. Senate last week breathed a little life back into the U.S. Postal System when it passed the 21st Century Postal Service Act.
As everyone is well aware, the Postal System is struggling mightily to stay afloat under massive debt, unyielding labor contracts, misguided management and a tremendous drop in mail volume. To say that the Postal System is on its last legs may not be a completely accurate assessment. But it is safe to say that if the Postal System was a three-legged stool, one of the legs would be missing.
In an effort to stop the financial hemorrhaging, the U.S. Postal System has come up with some real clever ways to get its operations in the black. First, it would eliminate 3,700 post offices nationwide, including the Grassy Butte, Arnegard, Mandaree and Cartwright offices in McKenzie County. Next it would eliminate Saturday delivery and lay off 120,000 workers. And finally, the Postal System said it would close a potential 250 mail processing centers across the country, including those facilities in Minot, Grand Forks, and Devils Lake.
Granted, closing post offices, eliminating Saturday mail delivery and transferring the operations of 250 mail processing centers might have saved the U.S. Postal Service some money. But would those reductions in service improve the mail service and make the U.S. Postal Service a more viable business model? Absolutely not. If the Postal System would have been allowed to go through with those changes, it would have been the beginning of the end of this country’s mail system as we know it.
But with the passage of the 21st Century Postal Service Act by the U.S. Senate, the groundwork was laid that will help solve the financial challenges facing the U.S. Postal Service by reducing its costs by $98 million. And it will ensure that universal service  continues for the American people, while encouraging innovation and more market-based practices.
And that is definitely good news for the people and businesses that rely on the U.S. Postal Service. And it is especially good news for rural and small town post office customers whose post offices were targeted for closure.
The U.S. Senate has recognized the importance that Americans place on having essential service and six-day-a-week delivery of their mail by the U.S. Postal Service.
The ball is now in the House of Representatives’ court. Hopefully, they too will decide that keeping a quality mail service is vital to the United States and act favorably on the Senate’s bill.