Farmers seeking relief from the continuing trade war with China caught a break Tuesday when U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a deadline extension for the Market Facilitation Program.

The application deadline was Jan. 15, but the partial government shutdown forced the USDA Farm Service Agency to close its doors late last year. The agency remained open using reserve funds but cannot process any applications until Congress approves a spending bill to reopen the government.

Farmers raising crops and livestock facing steep tariffs from China — including soybeans, wheat and hogs — are eligible to apply for payments from the federal government to help allay the costs of not shipping their products overseas.

Soybean farmers were the biggest recipients of the first round of payments, receiving $1.65 per bushel up to $125,000. Virginia soybean farmers collected $52,989, spread across 37 farms, during the first round of Market Facilitation Program payments.

In order to accommodate the partial shutdown, the USDA Farm Service Agency will extend the deadline to apply for the program as many business days as its office is closed after the government opens, according to a press release.

“Farmers who have already applied for the program and certified their 2018 production have continued to receive payments,” Perdue wrote in a news release. “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.”

Applications are available online at

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