FSA Offices to Reopen January 24 to Provide More Services

January 22, 2019 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On January 22, 2019, USDA announced that all FSA offices nationwide would reopen on January 24 to provide additional services to farmers and ranchers during the lapse in federal funding. Full-time hours will be in place through February 8.  The agency also announced that the deadline to apply for Market Facilitation Program Payments has been extended to February 14, 2019. Other program deadlines may also be modified. 

While the government is shut down, FSA staff will work on the following transactions:

  • Market Facilitation Program.
  • Marketing Assistance Loans.
  • Release of collateral warehouse receipts.
  • Direct and Guaranteed Farm Operating Loans, and Emergency Loans.
  • Service existing Conservation Reserve Program contracts.
  • Sugar Price Support Loans.
  • Dairy Margin Protection Program.
  • Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage.
  • Livestock Forage Disaster.
  • Emergency Assistance Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program.
  • Livestock Indemnity Program.
  • Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.
  • Tree Assistance Program.
  • Remaining Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program payments for applications already processed.

FSA transactions that will not be available include, but are not limited to:

  • New Conservation Reserve Program contracts.
  • New Direct and Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loans.
  • Farm Storage Facility Loan Program.
  • New or in-process Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program applications.
  • Emergency Conservation Program.
  • Emergency Forest Rehabilitation Program.
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program.
  • Grassroots Source Water Protection Program.

January 16:

FSA Offices Opening for Three Days for Limited Business

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced January 16, in the midst of the continuing partial government shutdown, that many Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices will be opening on January 17, 18, and 22 to help farmers and ranchers with "limited services." During this time, the staff will be authorized to:
  • Process payments made on or before December 31, 2018
  • Continue expiring financing statements
  • Open mail to identify priority items
  • Release proceeds from the sale of loan security by signing checks jointly payable to FSA that are brought to the county by producers
  • 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 IRS deadline

The FSA offices opening temporarily are listed here.

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

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, such as:
    • Livestock Indemnity Program
    • Emergency Conservation Program
    • Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program
    • Livestock Forage Disaster Program
    • Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish

Market Facilitation Program Application Deadline Extended

While January 15, 2019, was the original deadline for producers to apply for MFP, farmers have been unable to apply since December 28, 2018, when FSA offices closed because of the lapse in federal funding. Secretary Perdue has 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 December 28, 2018, should have already received their payments.