FSA to open during Government Shutdown

Brought to you by my counterpart Ben Brown

About half the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency offices will reopen temporarily during the government shutdown. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Wednesday the agency will open Thursday Jan. 17, Friday Jan. 18, and Tuesday Jan. 22, to perform certain limited services for farmers and ranchers.

“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 in a released statement.

Certain offices will be able to provide 1099 tax documents to borrowers who need them to file taxes by the Internal Revenue Service’s deadline. Staff may also process payments made on or before December 31, 2018, continue expiring financing statements, and open mail to identify priority items.

The employees will not, however, be able to issue new loans, process new applications for the Market Facilitation Program, or certify 2018 production for MFP payments. Disaster programs and the Dairy Margin Protection Program will also be off limits.

“Until Congress sends President Trump an appropriations bill in the form that he will sign,” Perdue said. “We are doing our best to minimize the impact of the partial federal funding lapse on America’s agricultural producers.”

USDA has recalled around 2,500 FSA employees to open offices during normal business hours. Offices will be closed for the federal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, January 21.

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