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USDA shutdown affects local farmers

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Oct 08 2013 10:28:04 PM MDT
MISSOULAL, Mont. -

Farmers across the United States are feeling the pinch from a shuttered Department of Agriculture.

With a lack of essential information, farmers are struggling to make critical crop decisions and for some up-and-coming farmers future planning has ground to a halt.

Tuesday afternoon NBC Montana went to St.Ignatius to talk with farmer Laura Ginsburg.  

Ginsburg tells NBC Montana with local farm service offices closed and a Farm Bill that never passed she's wondering how she and her partner can get a loan to purchase the farmland they are currently leasing.  

“As beginning farmers there is no way right now for us to proceed with land planning and irrigation infrastructure improvements,” she says.  “We've just moved here and we can't start producing on the land until we can get some kind of economic assistance and planning and potential funding.”

Up-and-coming farmers aren't the only ones feeling the effects of the government shutdown. USDA workers are furloughed and agricultural sales reports are no longer available - meaning farmers who depend on information about what's going on in the global market are left hanging.

Those reports would  normally alert farmers and ranchers to shortfalls in markets overseas which would prompt U.S. growers to plant more to meet those demand or they may alert farmers to harvest later to get the best price.

“We're definitely on hold for the foreseeable future,” Ginsburg tells us.  

Farmers receive federal funds that help support the growing community.  Ginsburg says she doesn't get those checks but she knows they're a concern for some of her fellow farmers.

“If you don't get those checks and you're depending on them that can be a huge hit,” she tells us.  “You just can't get a loan or any services from the USDA or FSA (Farm Service Agency).”  

Ginsburg tells us she and her partner will continue leasing the land they are on and irrigating with what they have, but at the end of the day she says no Farm Bill and no USDA means a dismal future for farmers and consumers.