NFU board calls for immediate end to government shutdown
The partial government shutdown—soon to enter its fifth week—is causing harm and exacerbating issues already facing American family farmers and ranchers as they look to sell their crops, acquire financing and prepare for the coming year.
Our nation's family farmers and ranchers are facing a financial crisis. Net farm income declined nearly 50 percent since 2013, and a majority of farms—farms of all sizes—have been operating in the red over the past several years. President Donald Trump initiated and escalated trade wars with China and much of the rest of the world, further depressing commodity prices and damaging America's reputation as a reliable trading partner. The government shutdown is making these matters worse.
There are a host of issues facing Farmers Union members because of the shuttering of federal agency doors, particularly those in their communities.
The Market Facilitation Program (MFP), designed to aid farmers through the administration’s trade wars, is frozen due to FSA office closures. This stems needed cash flow for farmers gearing up for the coming year. These closures also limit farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to access federally backed operating loans and microloans, and process payments that are tied to FSA loans.
Additionally, information, data, and reporting services provided by USDA have been discontinued, making it more difficult for producers to make informed planting and selling decisions.
Important agricultural research efforts are being delayed or halted, and some have been lost.
The shutdown is also significantly delaying implementation of both the 2018 Farm Bill and summertime sales of E15.
Farm bill programs and updates, signed into law just a day before the shutdown, are very important to family farmers and ranchers of all sizes and operation types. The E15 waiver is desperately needed this summer to cut into significant oversupply of corn. Its implementation will have important gains for the entire farm economy.
American family farmers and ranchers rely on these operations to support their livelihoods and ensure food security for the country. It is imperative that the President and Congress fund the federal government immediately.