January 17, 2019
In the wake of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, certain programs have been affected that relate to agricultural producers and enterprises in the state of Florida. Farmers, ranchers and rural communities rely on many federal programs and as the partial government shutdown continues, its impact will become more and more prominent.
The largest impacts to Florida agricultural producers include:
- Due to the government shutdown, farmers and ranchers have limited market information that can be used for these price discovery and risk management operations of their business.
- The closure of local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices is one of the biggest missing pieces right now. FSA closures have halted the processing of new applications for trade assistance to combat recent retaliatory tariffs.
- FSA Program payments are designed to provide a measure of relief from ongoing trade challenges. Because of that, the deadline for that program is extended by one day for each day that the government is shut down.
- Now that we have a new farm bill in place, the implementation of the bill is likely going to be delayed due to furloughed USDA employees being unable to hammer out program details.
- 2017 WHIP and Disaster Relief payments by the USDA are further delayed.
Delegates of the American Farm Bureau Federation urged the administration and Congress to work together to end the government shutdown as soon as possible. The current shutdown means farmers and ranchers are being delayed in securing loans and crop insurance as well as disaster and trade assistance. The impasse has also delayed implementation of important provisions of the farm bill.
USDA FSA offices will reopen temporarily Jan. 17-22 to process loan payments and tax documents. The offices reopening including offices in Gainesville, Plant City, Bonifay, Tavares, Madison, Florida City, Okeechobee and Bushnell.
UPDATE: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on Jan. 22 that all FSA offices nationwide will reopen to provide additional administrative services to farmers and ranchers during the government shutdown. Beginning Jan. 24, FSA offices will offer additional transactions.