Some USDA Farm Service Agency offices to reopen

Not all offices will reopen, and those that do, will be open only for three days

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corn field partially harvested
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

WASHINGTON — Many USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices will reopen temporarily in the coming days to perform certain limited services for farmers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recalled about 2,500 FSA employees to open offices on Thursday, Jan. 17, and Friday, Jan. 18, in addition to Tuesday, Jan. 22, during normal business hours.

The offices will be closed for the federal Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, Jan. 21.

In almost half of FSA locations, FSA staff will be available to assist agricultural producers with existing farm loans and to ensure the agency provides 1099 tax documents to borrowers by the Internal Revenue Service’s deadline.

“We are bringing back part of our FSA team to help producers with existing farm loans,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Meanwhile, we continue to examine our legal authorities to ensure we are providing services to our customers to the greatest extent possible during the shutdown.”

In Ohio, the following FSA offices will be open: Bellefontaine, Celina, Defiance, Eaton, Georgetown, Jackson, New Philadelphia, Norwalk, Ottawa, Salem, Tiffin, Washington Court House, Xenia and Zanesville.

In Pennsylvania, offices will be open in the following counties: Adams, Berks, Bradford, Centre/Clinton, Columbia/Montour, Crawford, Huntingdon/Blair, Indiana, Juniata/Mifflin/Perry, Lancaster, mercer, Snyder/Union, Somerset and Tioga.

Here’s the list of FSA service centers open in other states. (Link opens .pdf)

Staff members will be available at these FSA offices to help producers with specific services, including:

  • Processing payments made on or before Dec. 31, 2018.
  • Continuing expiring financing statements.
  • Opening mail to identify priority items.

Additionally, as an intermittent incidental duty, staff may release proceeds from the sale of loan security by signing checks jointly payable to FSA that are brought to the county office by producers.

While staff are available in person during this three-day window, most available services can be handled over the phone. Producers can begin contacting staff on Jan. 17 at those same locations.

Additionally, farmers who have loan deadlines during the lapse in funding do not need to make payments until the government shutdown ends.

Other FSA programs

Reopened FSA offices will only be able to provide the specifically identified services while open during this limited time. Services that will not be available include, but are not limited to:

  • New direct or facility loans.
  • New Farm loan guarantees.
  • New marketing assistance loans.
  • New applications for Market Facilitation Program (MFP).
  • Certification of 2018 production for MFP payments.
  • Dairy Margin Protection Program.
  • Disaster assistance programs.

Market Facilitation Program deadline extended

While Jan. 15, 2019, had been the original deadline for producers to apply for MFP, farmers have been unable to apply since Dec. 28, 2018, when FSA offices closed because of the lapse in federal funding.

Perdue previously extended the MFP application deadline for a period of time equal to the number of business days FSA offices end up being closed, once the government shutdown ends. These announced days of limited staff availability during the shutdown will not constitute days open in calculating the extension.

Producers who already applied for MFP and certified their 2018 production by Dec. 28, 2018, should have already received their payments.

More information on MFP is available at www.farmers.gov/manage/mfp.

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