County Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices rushed to get Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments processed before a government shutdown closed the offices Friday, according to USDA under secretary Bill Northey.
“Generally, if it got in and got through our payment system at FSA, even Friday morning activities, I believe it will be such that it’ll get to get to Treasury, get to the Federal Reserve and actually get to the bank account, to the farmers,” Northey told AgriTalk Radio host Chip Flory. “So that’s our understanding is that even though the offices are now closed, our process was completed to the point that they will go to the other parts of the federal government and finish that process and they’ll go ahead and continue to process and make those payments.”
Payments are only going to producers who applied for MFP and provided production information to FSA by midday on Friday. Applications are now on hold until the government shutdown ends. That could lead USDA to extend the current deadlines of Jan. 15 to apply for MFP and May 1 to provide production data, according to Northey.
Meanwhile, the government shutdown is causing headaches for some participants of USDA loan programs including the beginning farmer program.
“We may have some folks who are looking to pay off a marketing assistance loan, and because they took out a loan at harvest two or three months ago, they decided they’re going to sell that crop in January and they need to pay off that loan to be able to get clearance to move that crop,” Northey explained. “Again, that can’t happen right now with those offices being closed.”
Northey noted that the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) remains open for conservation program signups during the partial government shutdown.