The agriculture industry isn’t immune from the government shutdown. The ramifications of the government shutdown on farmers won’t really be known until January 1, and the unknown is exactly why local farmers say they’re concerned.
Our reporting partners at WICS ABC Newschannel 20 talked to Larry Beaty, a Sangamon County Farmer and Farm Bureau President. He says this is a critical time of year for farmers, and the government shutdown just adds to the stress.
“Here we’re trying to get our crop out, and it’s late and we’re looking to our leaders to give us a farm bill and they shut down,” said Beaty.
The sign on the door at the U.S. Department of Agriculture office in Springfield says it’s closed due to the lapse in federal government funding. For those who pay attention to the markets daily, like Morgan County farmer Dale Hadden, without the USDA reports, farmers are left in the dark.
“I listen to it early in the morning or when I’m in the combine at noon. Those are things I put into play when I’m making decisions, whether I want to market any more grain, whether I want to put it in storage, how I want to attack what’s going on in the marketplace right now,” said Hadden.
And if you’re a farmer looking for a loan from the Farm Service Agency, Hadden says for now, you’re out of luck.
“If you didn’t get it done Monday before the shutdown, it will be a matter of you waiting until they reopen for business again and then you transact your business with the FSA offices after that,” said Hadden.
The Farm Bill expired on September 30, and with Congress now focused on the shutdown, Beaty says the Farm Bill is not a priority.
“The longer it goes it’s going to affect the Farm Bill. The uncertainty of it–immigration–and those are major, major things for farmers and for ranchers, too,” said Beaty.
Beaty says the longer the shutdown goes on, the more farmers will be impacted.
“We try and feed the world and here we are with an unknown. It’s indeed a sad day,” said Beaty.
Because of the Grain Inspections Act, elevators are inspected by the state, but they’re also subsidized through a federal program. Hadden says it’s important that grain elevators are inspected to be sure that they’re treating farmers fairly.
Another concern for farmers is lock and dam legislation is also now at a standstill. With government agencies shut down, they’re unable to help promote the need for new locks and dams on the river, something many farmers are fighting for.