Letter: Shutdown hurting farmers, ranchers as much as anyone
Some people believe the government shutdown doesn't affect them or their neighbors. But we want to let our fellow citizens know it is having an effect on landowners, farmers, ranchers and certainly the government employees who live in our small rural towns across North Dakota.
Oct. 1 is normally a busy time for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency. Direct payments to farmers were supposed to come out, but that has been put on hold due to the shutdown. Conservation Reserve Program payments were also supposed to be mailed out to those individuals who are enrolled in that practice -- for some of those folks, that CRP check represents a large portion of their income for the year, and since the government entered into a contract with them, they are entitled to expect a check.
We also have producers who have an operating loan program through FSA. As they sell livestock or their crops or get a crop insurance indemnity check, the FSA office is also listed on their checks. In order to cash those checks, they must first be released by FSA staff. If the doors are closed, that producer is literally left in limbo.
The most unfortunate aspect of this is usually those producers who utilize these programs are our young producers or ones who can least afford to sit on money while they wait for their government to get back to work.
Last, but certainly not least, is the detrimental effect this shutdown has on our local government employees. Our North Dakota USDA-FSA staff have already been doing an outstanding job of handling the large cuts to their budget the past four years. Doing more with less has become a way of life in those local county offices and just because the government decides to shut down doesn't mean the work goes away -- it will be waiting for them -- plus more when the door does eventually open again.
We encourage our congressional delegation to work hard to try and break through the road block this shutdown has caused because we have a lot of things that need to be accomplished when they do get back to work -- one of which is passing a farm bill.
We're sure the ranchers who lost cattle in the early October snowstorm would sleep better at night if the Livestock Indemnity Program were in place to help them with this disaster.
Marcy Svenningsen, Valley City
Lucy Matejcek, Grand Forks
Todd Hall, Killdeer,
Marie Marshall, Towner
Lynn Jacobson, Alamo
N.D. Farm Service Agency State Committee