Cow on Farm

Local farmers say they're beginning to feel an impact, because certain programs have been paused by the government shutdown. (WDRB Photo)

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It may be a holiday weekend, but Shelby County farmer Seth Ellis is getting ready to work hard.

Right now, he wants to sell as much grain as he can because of the government shutdown.

"We're going to move as much as we can," Ellis said. 

There's a reason why time is of the essence. Since days after the government closed, USDA Farm Service Agency offices have been closed across the country, including in Kentucky.

"They implement all farm programs, be they loan programs for new and beginning farmers [or] operating loans for all farmers," Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelby County) said.

Hornback, a farmer himself, considers the offices, and what they offer, part of agriculture's lifeblood.

"It's something that agriculture cannot live without," he said.

For now, farmers can't get a new loan at the offices or take advantage of other programs, including one that helps out farmers hurt by the trade war with China. But that's not all. Hornback said farmers even need the offices for valuable info on what's selling well and what's not.

"It makes me, as a farmer, less informed to make decisions for my future for 2019 and the way I need to be running my operation," he said.

A bit of good news: The USDA recently announced it would man some of the offices with skeleton crews for a trio of days. Two of the three days, Jan. 17-18, have already passed. However, the offices will also be open Tuesday, Jan. 22.

That's why Ellis is working so hard this weekend, because the more grain he can move this move this weekend, the bigger check he'll get. However, he'll need the government to endorse his check, and that can only happen when this office is open. After Tuesday, if the shutdown lags, that's when Ellis and others will get nervous.

"We could be racking up interest at our primary lender that we couldn't pay back," Ellis said.

"If it drags on until, let's say the first of April, which is when we need to be in the field to start planting, and they don't have their operating loans, they haven't been able to deposit those checks and make payments and do those things, that could put them out of business," Hornback added.

For more information about the temporary reopening of FSA offices, click here.

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