Wednesday, January 23, 2019

USDA's Farm Service Agency offices to reopen despite federal shutdown, but not all services will be available

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that it will reopen all Farm Service Agency offices nationwide, temporarily calling nearly 10,000 furloughed federal employees back to work even as the longest-ever government shutdown dragged on," Kevin Breuninger reports for CNBC.

The 9,700 employees will work without pay until the shutdown is over, starting Jan. 24. About 2,500 of them were called back to work last week after the USDA reopened some FSA offices for three days only to provide what were deemed essential services. 

Without the FSA, farmers can't receive trade-war aid, apply for new aid, or get important information about financing options on possible new loans for land or equipment. Also, wildfire and hurricane relief can't be distributed.

Though the FSA offices open last week provided only a few services, offices will now offer an expanded (though not complete) list. The hours of operation could change if the shutdown goes long enough: "For the first two full weeks under this operating plan (Jan. 28 through Feb. 1 and Feb. 4-8), FSA offices will be open Mondays through Fridays. In subsequent weeks, offices will be open three days a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays if needed to provide the additional administrative services," USDA announced in a press release. It has also extended the deadline to apply for trade aid from Jan. 15 to Feb. 14. Click here for a full list of services that will be available.

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