Government shutdown impacts local farmers

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The government shutdown, which is now the longest in history, is affecting hundreds of thousands of people — including many in Stanly County.

The Stanly County Farm Service Agency (FSA), which is under the umbrella of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), serves farmers, ranchers and agricultural partners through the delivery of numerous agricultural programs, including N.C. farm loan programs, conservation programs and disaster assistance programs.

And with the federal government shutdown, these local farmers and ranchers cannot receive services from these programs.

Jennifer Almond, executive director of the Stanly County Farm Service Agency, said her focus is on the impact to the local farmers.

“They suffer the most on top of an already bad year” with the heavy rains, Almond said.

The government shutdown only adds “insult to injury,” she said.

The shutdown hurts the opportunity for farmers to borrow low-interest loans to help make ends meet due to the the wet weather and the hurricanes last year, said Curtis Furr, a farmer and Stanly County FSA committee member. “But with the door shut, there is no way they can do that.”

Also due to the shutdown, Furr said farmers can’t receive direct payments — as part of the USDA’s Market Facilitation Program to combat retaliatory export tariffs — for their soybeans, cotton, wheat, corn, sorghum, dairy, hogs, shelled almonds and sweet cherries. So, for example, a local farmer would not receive the $1.65 for every soybean bushel, Furr said.

The USDA does plan to reopen all FSA service centers beginning Thursday and provide a majority, but not all, of the FSA services needed by farmers and ranchers. The Market Facilitation Program will be available to farmers.

Furr is hopeful that sooner rather than later “somebody’s going to give in one way or the other” and find a way to stop the government shutdown.

“This shutdown is aggravating whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican,” he said.

The shutdown “looks bad on both parties,” Furr said.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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