Recently we have been asked if the current government shutdown has had any impact on our farm. The short answer is yes. This answer is going to vary from farm to farm based on which financial institutions they have done business with. We just so happen to have only worked with the Farm Service Agency whose offices are currently closed.
We started farming in 2009 with a beginning farmer loan through the Farm Service Agency. We needed something that didn’t require a huge down payment or would drown us in interest rates.
Since then, we have refinanced, purchased cows, purchased equipment, etc. Everything we have done has been through the Farm Service Agency. We wouldn’t have been able to do all of that with any other financial institution.
When attempting to work with others we have been told that we haven’t been milking cows long enough, our farm was too small, our loan amount was too small, and the most recent guy spent less than five minutes on the phone with me before he completely shut us down. Didn’t ask for financials. Didn’t ask any in depth questions. I mentioned that we milk 200 cows and started in 2009, and he was done with the conversation.
I have been so happy with FSA that two years ago I joined the county board to learn about all the programs they have to offer so that I could help other farmers in my community.
I have learned so much and have had the privilege of working with many people who love to help farmers and ranchers.
So as you can imagine each time there is a government shutdown like in 2013 and now, I can’t stand seeing folks not working or worrying about providing for their families. These are good people who do a lot for the agriculture community.
While the last shutdown (2013 with President Obama) had an effect on our farm, this one has had a bit of a different impact.
When you have a loan in which your cows are used as collateral, all cows that are sold through the local sale barn require approval from your FSA loan officer before you can cash the check. It’s a pain in the butt at times, but we make work. Unfortunately, this time milk prices are pretty rough, and we could really benefit from having those funds in our checking account to pay bills instead of waiting. Thankfully we do business with some pretty amazing folks who are willing to work with us until the FSA office opens back up.
At this point in time we are in the middle of purchasing some farmland. Absolutely nothing is being done with our loan, which is prolonging closing. Once again we are thankful to be working with folks that have patience and want us to purchase the land. In any other situation if we were having to compete with others and/or were dealing with a landowner who wanted to sell quickly — we would probably lose our chance.
I could continue with the other ways a government shutdown hurts our farm, but that doesn’t change anything. It is what it is, and we have to play the cards that we are dealt. This isn’t the first shutdown our farm has been through and certainly won’t be the last regardless of which political party holds office.
P.S. This isn’t intended to be me whining or complaining — I’m responding to the many people who have expressed concern for our family and farm and others just like us.
Krista Stauffer is a wife, mother of three, and first-generation millennial dairy farmer. Krista works side by side with her husband and kids on their 200-cow dairy.