Clements: The U.S. Department of Agriculture reopening its Farm Service Agency offices during the government shutdown allows farmers and ranchers to conduct urgent business before the planting season begins. American Farm Bureau Federation Chief Economist John Newton says this allows farmers and ranchers to move forward with planning for the 2019 season.
Newton: Well, I think its an opportunity for farmers and ranchers across the county to get in to their county FSA office and get started on all the paperwork that’s needed to have a successful planting season in 2019.
Clements: FSA offices will provide many normal services to farmers and ranchers, including necessary operating loans, crop insurance, crop disaster assistance and more.
Newton: USDA’s Farm Service Agency makes about $25 billion a year in direct operating loans and real estate loans to farmers and ranchers, to young and beginning farmers, so opening those offices up and allowing the FSA officials to make those agricultural loans is very important. We also have the Market Facilitation trade assistance packages that FSA officials can begin to process. Those are just two of a number of really important things that FSA is now able to deliver to farmers and ranchers.
Clements: Newton says the best thing for farmers and ranchers would be an end to the government shutdown.
Newton: Ending the shutdown would be a very good thing. Not only does it mean farmers and ranchers can continue to work with their FSA officials, but they’ll have all the services that USDA provides at their fingertips. When you think about crop insurance being readily available to farmers, that’s very important, getting the farm bill stood up and ready to go. And more than anything, some of the market information that we’ve missed now for several weeks that’s so critical for price discovery for a lot of commodities would be resumed.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.