The record-breaking government shutdown is over. But many area farmers were hurt by the closing of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The move cut farmer’s off from vital funding they needed to continue operations.
During the shutdown, farmers could not apply for loans or crop reports.
Daniel Wendland long time farmer and rancher says the impact of the government shutdown may be hard to see closer to home, but farmers in South Texas are experiencing some challenges.
“Last year was a pretty rough year for a lot of farmers. They didn’t make a great crop, so the support programs that are out there for us as far as the government shutdown affecting our prices is a great deal. And if you haven’t gotten that money back from that support program because of the shutdown, I mean you are sitting there waiting on it to come in, and that is last year’s money, and you have been without for 6 months already,” said Wendland.
Which means, many farmers are starting their season in the hole.
“Right now, if you fertilized and plowed and get everything cleaned up, you are probably sitting at $200-$225 an acre. So if you are a 10,000 acre farmer you are at $ 2.2 million. I would assume, and that is how much input you would have, and you haven’t even started growing a crop,” said Wendland.
This shutdown has some farmers worried they may not be able to access loans, grants, insurance, needed data, and other federal assistance in time to plant their crops.
”A lot of this work should have been in November-December and now we are in January, and it hasn’t been done. Rain slowed us down a little bit but not able to have the money to take care of those things certainly slowed us down a great deal,” said Wendland.
The USDA is doing everything in its power to help farmers during and after the shutdown, but nothing is guaranteed.
“No one can never predict the outcome in farming. The main thing with that, you are at the mercy of Mother Nature and the federal government, and those are the two worse things to have to deal with,” said Wendland.
“It can greatly affect production, depending on how the rains hit this next year. It can cause you, if the weather becomes adverse, it can actually fail completely. If it fails completely, well guess what, the consumer takes the hit. We don’t make a crop, and there is not enough product out there to supply the demand and so, therefore, prices go up,” said Wendland.
The shutdown also puts a hold on an $867 billion farm bill signed into law back in December.
The bill would be funding programs like natural disaster insurance, aid for disabled and veteran farmers, as well as conservation and organic farming funding.
The bill aims to relieve farmers of pressures brought on by the ongoing trade disputes with China.