U.S. Agriculture Sonny Perdue Secretary extended the deadline for agricultural producers to apply for payments under the Market Facilitation Program provided by the trade mitigation program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The original deadline had been Jan. 15, 2019, but farmers have been unable to apply for the program since the lapse in federal funding caused the closure of USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices at the end of business on Dec. 28, 2018.
Perdue explained that President Donald Trump instructed him to craft a program that would protect farmers from unjustified retaliatory tariffs from foreign nations. As part of that package, the Market Facilitation Program has been making payments directly to farmers who have suffered trade damage.
“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.
Farmers who have already applied for the program and certified their 2018 production have continued to receive payments, the USDA statement noted.
“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,” Perdue said.
Congress continues to wrestle with how to appease the President's demands for funding construction of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Reports indicate that dozens of House Republicans could join Democrats this week in voting for an appropriations bill to reopen large parts of the government, including USDA and the Food & Drug Administration.