Creating havoc this week, landlords across the country were contacted via mail that a deadline for the Market Facilitation Program was fast approaching and that they needed to be signed up. A friendly reminder would be much welcomed in most cases, except this friendly reminder had no way of being handled. Since the government shut down, many agencies have been put on furlough due to lack of government funding.
The Farm Service Agency has been out of the office since the close of Dec. 28. FSA is the agency accepting applications and dispersing funds for MFP, which originally had a sign up deadline of Jan. 15 and was quickly approaching while the government was shutdown. The reminders had landlords frantically calling their operators to see what needed to be done, with little avail.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue extended the deadline for agricultural producers to apply for payments under the MFP as provided by the trade mitigation program administered by USDA. A statement put out by Perdue did not specify exactly when that new deadline is, only that it will correlate to the number of days that FSA offices are shut down. It’s unclear when the government shutdown will end.
“President Trump instructed me, as Secretary of Agriculture, to craft a program that would protect farmers from unjustified retaliatory tariffs from foreign nations,” Perdue said. “As part of that package, the Market Facilitation Program has been making payments directly to farmers who have suffered trade damage. Using existing funds, we were able to keep FSA offices open as long as possible, but unfortunately had to close them when funding ran out. We will therefore extend the application deadline for a period of time equal to the number of business days FSA offices were closed, once the government shutdown ends. Farmers who have already applied for the program and certified their 2018 production have continued to receive payments. Meanwhile, I continue to urge members of Congress to redouble their efforts to pass an appropriations bill that President Trump will sign and end the lapse in funding so that we may again provide full services to our farmers and ranchers.”