The Government shutdown, which started midnight on Dec. 22, has affected the ability of many federal agencies to stay open. Many federal agencies shut down immediately on emergency furlough. As of Dec. 28, all Farm Service Agency locations went on furlough due to the lapse in federal funding for the agency. This affects many farmers, especially since FSA started making the first round of payments on the Market Facilitation Program. With a signup deadline creeping up — Jan. 15 — many farmers are wondering where this leaves their application and payment.
First off, although FSA is now closed, all NRCS offices are still open. Due to “a combination of funds from the appropriations prior to December 22, 2018, and mandatory program funds from the signing of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018,” NRCS said it is able to continue business as normal. This is good news for farmers who have not completed their MFP application yet. Although payments have been put on hold, applications can still be turned in. As long as you have your application, you can turn it into NRCS staff who will “accept the application, date stamp, and hold until the FSA staff returns to the office.”
For those producers who have not started the application process yet, NRCS staff will direct you to farmers.gov. On the site, you can fill out an application with the necessary log in information. Without level 2 eAuthenticaiton, you will have to wait until government funding is restored and FSA offices open up again for an application. Call your local NRCS office for more information.
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue will determine if the MFP deadline should be extended after appropriations are restored. Producers have until May 1, 2019, to certify their production based on their application.
Since NRCS is still open, all contract work should continue as well. In addition, all partners (state, district, shared employees etc.) in the NRCS office will be open for business as usual as well.