USDA Announces Partial Reopening of Farm Service Agency Offices
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today marks day 27 of the government shutdown, and with each new day comes more uncertainty for fresh produce producers who rely on the USDA. In recognition of that uncertainty, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the department would partially and temporarily reopen. This is in part an effort to distribute the USDA’s previously announced $12 billion aid package and mitigate effects of tariffs that other countries have imposed on U.S. agricultural products.
“Until Congress sends President Trump an appropriations bill in the form that he will sign, we are doing our best to minimize the impact of the partial federal funding lapse on America’s agricultural producers,” Perdue said. “We are bringing back part of our FSA team to help producers with existing farm loans. Meanwhile, we continue to examine our legal authorities to ensure we are providing services to our customers to the greatest extent possible during the shutdown.”
Perdue said the USDA will temporarily reopen many Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices on Thursday, January 17; Friday, January 18; and, Tuesday January 22. In total, 2,500 FSA employees have been recalled back to their jobs, and they will be available in almost half of FSA locations to assist agricultural producers with existing farm loans and to ensure the agency provides 1099 tax documents to borrowers by the Internal Revenue Service’s deadline.
This in an inconvenient time for farmers for the government to be shut down, CNBC reported. Many fresh produce suppliers make plans for their main planting seasons during these winter months, and many farmers are also considering crop insurance and credit and loan programs. FSA offices also administer funds for the USDA’s Market Facilitation Program, which will subsidize producers with $12 billion. The original deadline to apply for the program was January 15, but the USDA extended that deadline until the government shutdown ends.
AndNowUKnow will continue to notify our readers on how the ongoing government shutdown will or will not affect the produce industry, so return back to us for more.