Thursday, January 17, 2019

Some Farm Service Agency offices reopened for three days

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has temporarily reopened almost half of the nation's Farm Service Agency offices to perform limited services for three days: today, tomorrow, and Tuesday, Jan. 22. The offices will be closed on Jan. 21 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

About 2,500 workers have been recalled to process payments on existing loans, provide tax documents, and a few other services deemed necessary. Offices won't be able to process new loans or trade aid applications, or dispense hurricane or wildlife relief. Click here for a list of services available, and click here for a list of reopened offices.

The move could provide some relief to farmers hurt by the shutdown, but farmers still face difficulties without access to the full scope of services offered by FSA offices. "With growing season just months away, the closure of FSA offices and other USDA programs is threatening some farmers’ ability to buy seeds, land and fertilizer in time to plant many of their crops this year," Ryan McCrimmon reports for Politico. "Without access to the more than 2,100 FSA offices dotting the country, farmers and ranchers can’t discuss financing options for buying land or read monthly market reports that influence planting decisions, for example."

Between Dec. 21 and Jan. 3 the USDA dispensed $2.78 billion in aid to farmers hurt by the trade war with China. About $4.4 billion in aid is still available to farmers, but farmers have no way to access it until the shutdown ends, McCrimmon reports.

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