FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2019
CONTACT: Bob Thompson, President
Shutdown Hits American Farmers Already Hurt by China Trade War
As the government shutdown drags into its fourth week, more and more federal agencies and the programs they oversee are crumbling without funding. Farmers, who rely on a number of federal programs for information and financial and technical assistance, are among those most immediately and directly affected by the shutdown.
According to the Michigan Farmers Union, the closure of county agriculture offices could not have come at a worse time. “With approximately 38 USDA Service Centers now closed, the review of applications for the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), which is intended to assist farmers affected by ongoing trade disputes, will be delayed”, said Bob Thompson, President of Michigan Farmers Union.
Dennis Kellogg, MFU Board member and small, diversified farmer in Gratiot County has been directly impacted. “This is foolishness” said Kellogg. “I am counting on those funds to help settle my upcoming tax bills and the retaliatory tariffs, coupled with a government shutdown need to be negotiated to a settlement.” His application to the MFP was postmarked on the due date at his local post office, but will be held with all other FSA mail until the shutdown ends and the offices reopen.
The shutdown has also created a new wave of uncertainty in planning for the planting season because crucial end of year agricultural data will now not be released on schedule. Starting on December 22nd, the first day of the shutdown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suspended activities including the publication of reports from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and the Economic Research Service (ERS), agricultural research, the allocation of new grants and rural development loans, and investigations of anticompetitive activities
In addition to NASS and ERS data, the USDA will not issue a number of important reports on their scheduled publication date of January 11th. These reports include the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), the Winter Wheat Seedings report, the Grain Stocks report, a citrus production report, and a 2018 crop production report. Cumulatively, these reports inform spring planting, loan allocation, business planning, futures purchasing, and other economic decisions.
All of the delayed reports are expected to be released sometime after the government reopens.