"Some funds were made available for the early retirement program by reducing the size of the second cut."
Strain says a third budget cut is making the early retirement offers necessary. This plan is expected to result in continuing payroll savings and lessen layoffs next budget year. Strain says any further reduction in staff will make it difficult for his department to perform their constitutional job.
"We went from, seven years ago, 1,006 employees now to 540 and each position we have is critical."
Strain says the department staff has been reduced from 1,006 in 2007 to under 540 today. He says this is their fourth layoff avoidance plan since he assumed office in 2008. Strain says despite the budget woes, they will continue to work to fulfill the critical mission of the agency.
"The same time we've cut our staff in half, we have doubled the value of the agricultural sector from $5.9 to $12 billion."