As the government shutdown enters its fifth week, the Department of Agriculture announced that it will temporarily resume full-time operations of its Farm Service Agency offices nationwide. Beginning tomorrow, FSA offices will be open daily until Feb. 8. Should the government shutdown extend beyond that date, offices will be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays if needed to provide administrative services, USDA said.
Under this new plan, the FSA will be able offer more administrative services to farmers and ranchers, including: making new direct and guaranteed operating loans; signing documents related to “assignment of guarantee” and two-party checks; and processing transactions related to the Margin Protection Program and disaster payments to producers whose applications have already been approved. Additionally, all existing programs under Farm Production and Conservation will continue to operate.
Farmers will not be able to sign up for any new Farm Bill programs, such as dairy or commodity programs. FSA will also be unable to make new direct and guaranteed farm ownership loans during this time.