Princeton Farm Service Agency (FSA) Service Center was one of about half the country's FSA centers set to reopen temporarily this week and next amid an ongoing federal government shutdown.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Wednesday that the local office and others around the country would be open Thursday and Friday, as well as Tuesday, Jan. 22, during normal business hours. The offices will be closed Monday for the federal Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Staff members will be available to assist ag producers with existing loans and to provide 1099 tax documents to borrowers to meet an IRS deadline.
About 2,500 employees have been recalled nationwide to staff the offices.
“Until Congress sends President Trump an appropriations bill in the form that he will sign, we are doing our best to minimize the impact of the partial federal funding lapse on America’s agricultural producers,” Perdue said. “We are bringing back part of our FSA team to help producers with existing farm loans. Meanwhile, we continue to examine our legal authorities to ensure we are providing services to our customers to the greatest extent possible during the shutdown.”
FSA staff members will also be available to assist with processing payments made on or before Dec. 31, continuing expiring financing statements, and opening mail to identify priority items.
“Additionally, as an intermittent incidental duty, staff may release proceeds from the sale of loan security by signing checks jointly payable to FSA that are brought to the county office by producers,” an FSA announcement stated.
Producers unable to visit the office can handle most business via telephone. Contact the local center at 270-365-6530.
Farmers with loan deadlines during the lapse in funding do not need to make payments until the shutdown ends, according to the FSA notice.
The reopened FSA offices will only be able to provide the services noted above. Services that will not be available include: new direct or facility loans, new farm loan guarantees, new marketing assistance loans, new applications for the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), certification of 2018 production for MFP payments, the Dairy Margin Protection Program, and disaster assistance programs.
“While Jan. 15, 2019, had been the original deadline for producers to apply for MFP, farmers have been unable to apply since Dec. 28, 2018, when FSA offices closed because of the lapse in federal funding,” the announcement states.
“Secretary Perdue has extended the MFP application deadline for a period of time equal to the number of business days FSA offices end up being closed, once the government shutdown ends. These announced days of limited staff availability during the shutdown will not constitute days open in calculating the extension. Producers who already applied for MFP and certified their 2018 production by Dec. 28, 2018 should have already received their payments.”