Valley farmers relieved after local USDA office reopens despite shutdown

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Valley farmers felt a sense a relief after learning a local USDA office reopened on Thursday.

The USDA has recalled about 9,700 employees to provide financial assistance to farmers and ranchers.

RELATED: All Farm Service Agency offices to reopen despite shutdown

They use FSA offices to apply for aid and find tax help.

With so many Valley crops in their dormant stage, winter is a time for growers to take care of paperwork. Many take out loans to plant a new crop. Others sign up for insurance programs.

For 34 days, they couldn't do so through the nothwest Fresno office of the USDA Farm Service Agency. But now that it has reopened, farmers can once again take care of business.

"Here locally the FSA office is critical to many farmers out there. They're very involved in loan components for certain operations, technical assistance. Having the absence of that has been felt by some growers in the region," said Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen. "Another important component is rural development funds. Those don't directly go to the farm per se but they really affect the rural communities and here in the San Joaquin valley, a major funding source for projects up and down."

In a statement, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, "We want to offer as much assistance as possible until the partial government shutdown is resolved."

FSA office workers aren't getting paid but they've been busy reaching out to farmers who have already sent in applications or had questions.

A deadline to apply for assistance among growers impacted by retaliatory trade tariffs has been extended due to the shutdown.

The Market Facilitation program deadline is now February 14.

Ryan Jacobsen said the shutdown has also slowed the implementation of the Farm Bill.
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