Agriculture World

US Department of Agriculture Reopening FSA Offices for Three Days

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reopening 980 Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices for three days to help process the farm loans as well as tax documents during the partial federal government shutdown.

Around 2500 FSA workers who have been furloughed by the partial shutdown that started on 22 December have been asked to return to work without pay, the department said on 16th January. It informed that the offices would be open on 17, 18 and 19 January i.e. Thursday to Friday and Tuesday before shutting down again.

The US Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue said, “Until the Congress sends an appropriations bill to President Donald Trump to sign it, we will be doing our best to reduce the impact of the partial federal funding plunge on US agricultural producers adding that we are bringing back part of the FSA team to help producers with existing farm loans.”

Perdue said out of the agency’s 2,124 offices, 983 would be open. At least one office will be open in each state, and also in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Todd Van Hoose, Chief executive of the Farm Credit Council that represents farm credit institutions across the country lending to half a million customers said, “That is going to give a little bit of relief”. He said, “This is the heavy renewal period for agricultural loans. Hence it is very important that these FSA offices open permanently so that we can get new business done”.

To recall, one-quarter of the federal government shut down on 22 December 2018 due to President Trump’s demand for dollar 5.7 billion to finance a wall along the US-Mexico border - that the congressional Democrats oppose.

The shutdown, which is in its 26th day, has waved across the already struggling farm economy in US. Last week the USDA canceled the release of a slew of important reports.

Besides the lack of clarity about supply and demand for their produce, farmers have been unable to get aid payments from the government’s $12 billion plan to ease the pain caused by the trade war.

The shutdown is also threatening to hobble the compilation of important data and reports before the USDA’s hotly anticipated yearly outlook conference scheduled to be held in February.

At its Agricultural Outlook Forum, fixed for 21 to 22 February in Virginia, the USDA released preliminary estimates for the US crop, livestock and dairy sectors, with updated acreage forecast for the new year along with farm-gate price prediction.



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