The partial government shutdown, including non-essential USDA functions, is raising producer concerns over timely farm bill implementation, ahead of this year’s planting season.
As if farmers didn’t have enough problems with years of low-prices, trade and other troubles. Now, the partial government shutdown, in its second week, is unnerving producers, according to American Farm Bureau Executive Director Dale Moore.
“It’s always a challenge to implement a farm bill, but when the department doesn’t have funding, that’s certainly something that, we’re all holding our breath to see, A, how quickly that can get resolved, and B, how that helps the Secretary and his team get started on implementing this new farm bill. This, certainly, is going to be a challenge, and one we hope gets resolved very soon.”
Some programs, including Market Facilitation payments, are continuing, uninterrupted. But Moore says farmers need to know soon, what combination of regular farm programs they’ll use to manage risk.
“One thing that we have heard a lot about in the lead-up to getting the farm bill done in Congress, and the president getting it signed, was the assurances that farmers are going to have an opportunity to make new decisions on whether they’re signed up for ARC or PLC.”
Moore warns timing is key for producers and their lenders.
“Fundamentally, they would like to have something done well before they get started on that spring planting process…and that is why, when the farm bill…they had a fairly short window for implementation—that was spelled out in the bill—and that’s a pretty hard mark to hit, when you don’t have the funding and have your personnel in place.”
Moore says the “missing piece” right now is whether producers can get into their local FSA office and figure out their 2019 plans.
But those offices began shutting down as funding ran out last Friday.