Farmers who had waited to enroll in the Market Facilitation Program will get a deadline extension once USDA Farm Service Agency offices are allowed to reopen.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday it will extend the Jan. 15 enrollment deadline for the trade-aid payments and add a comparable number of days to set a new deadline when USDA funding is reauthorized by Congress and approved by the president.
As the government shutdown hit its 18th day on Wednesday, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said he had written to USDA asking for an extension because FSA offices had been closed since Dec. 28 when funding ran out.
“Obviously, the longer the shutdown goes on, the more problematic it will become,” Grassley said.
Grassley said he asked USDA to accommodate those farmers who had not gotten enrolled.
“That’s kind of a no-brainer,” Grassley said. “Still, we got to tell the secretary of agriculture what my farmers are telling me, and I’m doing that.”
In a statement, Perdue said the extension would run for a number of days equal to the number of business days FSA offices remain closed during the shutdown. Due to a Dec. 31-Jan 1, holiday schedule, the FSA offices, as of Jan. 8, have been closed five business days.
“President Trump instructed me, as Secretary of Agriculture, to craft a program that would protect farmers from unjustified retaliatory tariffs from foreign nations,” Perdue said in the statement.
“As part of that package, the Market Facilitation Program has been making payments directly to farmers who have suffered trade damage. Using existing funds, we were able to keep FSA offices open as long as possible, but unfortunately had to close them when funding ran out. We will therefore extend the application deadline for a period of time equal to the number of business days FSA offices were closed, once the government shutdown ends,” Perdue said.
Farmers who have already applied for MFP and certified their 2018 production have continued to receive payments, Perdue added.
“Meanwhile, I continue to urge members of Congress to redouble their efforts to pass an appropriations bill that President Trump will sign and end the lapse in funding so that we may again provide full services to our farmers and ranchers,” Perdue said.
USDA already has announced that the Jan. 11 crop reports have been delayed, including the following reports: Crop Production, Annual Crop Production, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), quarterly Grain Stocks, Rice Stocks, Winter Wheat and Canola Seedings, and Cotton Ginnings reports. A new date for those reports will be set when funding is restored.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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