More than 25 days into the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, some agencies are temporarily reopening their doors to address community needs.
The Department of Agriculture has already moved money around to fund the supplemental nutrition assistance program through February, despite the absence of an appropriations bill acceptable to the president.
On Wednesday morning, Secretary Sonny Perdue announced some farm service agencies will open for a brief window to assist with a limited range of problems facing agriculture producers.
Farmers and ranchers relying on Farm Service Agency centers to process loan payments and tax documents will have three days to act. Farm Service Agency offices in Strasburg and Harrisonburg will open today, Friday and Tuesday. Offices will be closed over the weekend and for Martin Luther King Jr. day on Monday.
Offices will be staffed on a limited basis, according to the USDA press release, and staff members will not be processing any new applications for loans, the market facilitation program, or assistance programs.
Any farmers or ranchers who have loan deadlines that come up during the government shutdown will not be responsible for payments until the shutdown ends, the press release said.
Farmers who have not applied for the Market Facilitation Program, a funding mechanism to protect and reimburse farmers for select products suffering from the trade war with China, will be able to apply after the shutdown ends. The original deadline for applications was Tuesday. However, that date will be moved to whatever number of business days the government remains shut down beyond Tuesday.