U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that many Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices will reopen temporarily in the coming days to perform certain limited services for farmers and ranchers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recalled about 2,500 FSA employees to open offices on Thursday, January 17 and Friday, January 18, in addition to Tuesday, January 22, during normal business hours. The offices will be closed for the federal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, January 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.
“Until Congress sends President Trump an appropriations bill in the form that he will sign, we are doing our best to minimize the impact of the partial federal funding lapse on America’s agricultural producers,” Perdue said. “We are bringing back part of our FSA team to help producers with existing farm loans. 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.”
Staff members will be available at certain FSA offices to help producers with specific services, including:
• Processing payments made on or before December 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.
Information on the locations of FSA offices to be open during this three-day window will be posted:
• On the USDA website.
• On Twitter at @SecretarySonny and @USDA.
• On USDA’s Facebook.
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 January 17.
Additionally, farmers who have loan deadlines during the lapse in funding do not need to make payments until the government shutdown ends.