2 area Farm Service offices to reopen for 3 days

January 18, 2019

Farmers will have a brief window to tap into limited Farm Service Agency resources beginning today.

The ongoing partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, forced FSA offices to close Dec. 28. The closure prevents some farmers from applying for loans and receiving payments designed to mitigate impacts from President Donald Trump’s tariff war with China.

In southeastern Minnesota, the offices in Rochester and Preston will reopen today, Friday and Tuesday, but only limited services will be available.

“We are bringing back part of our FSA team to help producers with existing farm loans,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in a statement. “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.”

Office staff will be able to process payments made before Jan. 1, continue expiring financial statements and open mail to prioritize cases. They won’t be able to handle farm loan guarantees, new direct and facility loans or new applications for the tariff payments.

Farmers originally had until Jan. 15 to apply for the tariff relief, known as market facilitation payments. The deadline will be extended past Jan. 15 for as many business days as it ends up being closed since Dec. 28. The brief reopening will not count in the calculation.

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