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NC farmers struggle with government shutdown

January 4, 2019

The Farm Service Agency Office in Harnett County sits dark as the federal government shutdown approaches two weeks. Farmers all over the country depend on the FSA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for information, and they haven’t been able to get that information as the new year starts.

“We are on deadlines. We have dates that we are supposed to do things and (it’s) pretty obvious, we can’t do it when the office is closed,” said Fuquay-Varina farmer Ricky Sears. “Not only do we need to give any wheat reports and stuff like that, but if there’s any money involved that can’t be gotten either.”

Money is a big problem for these farmers. Any money that’s coming from the USDA for hurricane relief isn’t available. Neither is money for farmers affected by tariffs.

“Right now you can’t sign up for it,” Sears said. “I think what bothers me is I look at this and we say we are going to have this furlough for nonessential jobs, these jobs for these farmers in these federal agencies are not nonessential job,” said Larry Wooten, who is the president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau. “They are very important as we begin to look at the next crop year, keeping them on the farm, getting them financed and getting them ready to produce a crop.” It’s a helpless feeling for people who are growing weary of seeing their fate in someone else’s hands. Sears lost half of his tobacco crop during Hurricane Florence, and he’s growing frustrated. “The weather is out of my control, the shutdown is out of my control, building a wall is out of my control,” he said.

The USDA is continuing to offer services that are essential to public health like inspections of poultry, beef and dairy.

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