Government shutdown impacting area farmers just before planting season

Government shutdown impacting area farmers just before planting season

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The partial government shutdown — now in day 27 — is rippling across the country and affecting farmers.

For many farmers, that means another day without access to resources from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), a federal group that is part of the United States Department of Agriculture and provides financial assistance to farmers.

“The Farm Service Agency assigns track numbers to the farm. Local agencies like soil and water right here in New Hanover County depend on that information to finish administrative duties," said Dru Harrison, director of New Hanover County Soil and Water Conservation. "Without that in place, there is a delay in services.”

Harrison says tracking numbers the FSA assigns are crucial so farmers can discuss financing, purchase new land or receive market reports that help them make planting decisions.

“The FSA office also helps farmers obtain crop insurance and also to improve water quality," Harrison said. "This could really impact the farmers' pocketbook. If they don’t have crop insurance, they can’t stay afloat.”

Harrison said if the shutdown continues, it could hurt farmers at the worst time.

“Planting season is in March for farmers," Harrison said. "That’s when we could really see an impact with these delays if the government is not open by then. The paperwork will back up even further.”

The USDA announced Wednesday many FSA offices will open temporarily to help farmers. About 2,500 FSA workers will open offices Thursday, Friday and Tuesday, Jan. 22.

FSA employees hope to be able to help agricultural producers with their existing farm loans, and help them prepare for tax time. For a list of locations in North Carolina, click here.

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