Impact of government shutdown on farming community

Wiregrass farmers feel impact of government shutdown

HEADLAND, AL (WSFA) - The impact of the government shut down is rippling across the country and having some impact on farmers.

“It’s no question we need a compromise to occur and we need to get back to business,” said William Birdsong, Agronomist.

Wednesday marked the 19th day of the government shutdown. For some farmers, that means another day without access to resources from the Farm Service Agency - a federal agency temporarily closed during the shutdown that provides financial assistance to farmers.

“I really do feel for those growers who are in that position having FSA as a lien holder,” said Birdsong.

Farmers who worked with the agency as a lien holder can’t cash checks they received from crop sales to pay bills until the check is endorsed by FSA - which obviously can’t happen until they re-open.

Birdsong estimates less than 10 percent of farmers are dealing with that financial burden.

A concern more pressing for the majority of farmers in the Wiregrass - when federal disaster relief assistance will come.

“If there were to be anything there for disaster relief, then these farmers need disaster relief as soon as possible,” said Birdsong. “It doesn’t need to be held up.”

Birdsong says between Hurricane Michael and subsequent rains - this has been a devastating year overall for many farmers.

If the government is to provide financial assistance - any delays in making it available could extend the timeline for farmers to actually receive the help.

“You have to go through the application process, you have to submit information and data to prove that you’ve been impacted adversely by this storm,” said Birdsong, “Unfortunately that takes time and time is an important commodity right now.”

The FSA closure also impacts the deadline for farmers impacted by the U.S trade war with China to apply for financial assistance. The original deadline was Jan. 15 - but it’s expected to be pushed back.

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