Leaders of the United States Postal Service have warned about its increasing financial woes before and during the pandemic, and concerns are growing over how a system collapse would impact residents of rural areas.
National Rural Letter Carriers Association President Ronnie Stutts said for rural residents in states such as Iowa, the mail service offers more than just a way to get bills and junk mail. He said many seniors living in these communities receive their prescription drugs through the mail.
Stutts said this type of service could be especially important as the pandemic plays out.
That’s why Stutts and others advocating in support of the Postal Service want President Donald Trump to authorize an emergency $10 billion loan that was earmarked by Congress under the federal stimulus bill.
Last week, Trump said he would not release the money until the Postal Service raises its prices. Trump and other Republicans have raised questions about the sustainability of the agency and have, at times, called for it to be privatized.
Stutts said mail volume is down 50% since the crisis began. While parcel demand is up, he said it doesn’t make up for all the mail not sent out for delivery. And he said if the Postal Service were to collapse, rural customers would have to rely on private shipping companies that don’t have as much infrastructure in smaller communities.
Stutts said even if the president authorizes the $10 billion loan, it might only allow the agency to survive for about another year before another rescue is needed. That’s why he believes comprehensive reform also is needed to keep the Postal Service around for the long term.