Wisconsin farmers feel impact of government shutdown

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Nearly four weeks into the government shutdown and Wisconsin farmers are feeling the impact, especially since some of the U.S. Department of Agriculture operations are not active.

UW-Extension says because of the shutdown, farmers aren't able to get updated prices and information from agriculture department employees.

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin also weighed in on the topic, saying dairy farmers were having a really tough time for several years before the shutdown, but now the lack of resources is creating more havoc.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture is not implementing these programs that will bring relief to the very dairy farmers and other farmers in Wisconsin who desperately need that relief,” said Baldwin.

UW-Extension Ag agent, Mark Hagedorn, says the shutdown has prohibited farmers from taking advantage of certain programs or assistance like the Dairy Margin Protection Program and any disaster assistance programs. He says it has also impacted access to certain funds.

“There are definitely a number of producers out there that rely on annual operating loans that are funded through FSA funds or guaranteed funds,” said Hagedorn.

Baldwin said farmers usually gather data from the USDA at this point in time that help guide their planting decisions. She said they're also taking out loans for seed and other necessities during planting season.

“Right now the USDA is not able to furnish them the data or answer the questions because the farm service agencies are closed,” said Baldwin.

The USDA said in a press release Wednesday it has recalled about 25-hundred employees to open offices for three business days starting Thursday.

Offices will be open on Thursday, January 17 and Friday, January 18, in addition to Tuesday, January 22, during normal business hours. The offices will be closed for the federal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, January 21.

Workers will be available to help process existing farm loans and tax documents, along with other limited services.