LIMA — Some area farmers are still waiting on federal assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to come through as the partial federal government shutdown continues.
Among the programs affected by the shutdown are USDA subsidies promised to farmers who suffered financially as a result of the trade dispute between the U.S. and China, an issue which has yet to be resolved.
“They’re kind of at a standstill,” said Jessica Vandenbroek, organization director of the Allen County Farm Bureau. “There’s several guys that are waiting for their soybean checks. They normally use that for their crops for next year. They don’t know when they’ll get that, but they still have to pay the taxes on their property and other taxes that they owe the government.”
“The initial concern was would they be able to register their crop yields,” said Mark Badertscher, an agricultural and natural resources educator in Hardin County, referring to a Jan. 15 deadline for applicants to certify crop yields. “Well a lot of farmers never got a chance to sign up because they weren’t done with the harvest until late December. They didn’t get an opportunity to report that second half of their yields.”
That deadline has been extended to account for the shutdown, which Badertscher said alleviated many of the concerns he’s heard from producers in his county since the shutdown started.
Limited hours and staff at Farm Service Agency offices has been another complication, particularly for farmers in need of loans. While some FSA offices reopened temporarily last week and on Tuesday, many remained closed. The USDA plans to reopen all FSA offices on Thursday, however.
But even though the shutdown has created some headaches, Cal Whewell, a regional director the financial services company FCStone in Bowling Green, said he doesn’t think there will be any long-term damage at this point.
“I think it has created some inconveniences,” he said, “but at this stage I don’t think it has created any long-lasting impact.”
Whewell pointed to the lack of government reports that farmers rely on to make market decisions as an example of another complication caused by the shutdown. “I think the markets have been kind of stalled because of that,” he said. “At this point in time, nothing has any irreversible damage.”
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.