WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue extended the deadline for agricultural producers to apply for payments under the Market Facilitation Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The original deadline had been Jan. 15, but farmers have been unable to apply for the program since the lapse in federal funding caused the closure of USDA Farm Service Agency offices at the end of business on Dec. 21.
“Using existing funds, we were able to keep FSA offices open as long as possible, but unfortunately had to close them when funding ran out. We will therefore extend the application deadline for a period of time equal to the number of business days FSA offices were closed, once the government shutdown ends," Perdue said in a USDA news release.
"Farmers who have already applied for the program and certified their 2018 production have continued to receive payments. Meanwhile, I continue to urge members of Congress to redouble their efforts to pass an appropriations bill that President Trump will sign and end the lapse in funding so that we may again provide full services to our farmers and ranchers.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and incoming chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said his office had been in contact with the USDA about the issue.
“Farmers who haven’t been able to apply for trade assistance would’ve missed the deadline through no fault of their own," he said in a statement. "It’s worth recognizing that farmers applying for assistance in the first place are hurting because of a trade war they didn’t start."