USDA to Reopen FSA Offices for Additional Services During Government Shutdown

Today, Sec. Perdue announced the re-opening of all FSA county offices beginning Thursday, January 24th. Please see full press release below.
 
Of note:

  • Offices will be open for normal office hours 8am-4:30pm daily Monday-Friday, January 24-Feburary 8, 2019, reduced to Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday for all subsequent weeks beginning February 12.
  • Select Farm Programs and Farm Loan Programs are available. See list in Press Release Below.
  • MFP application deadline is February 14, 2019. MFP proof of yield deadline is May 1, 2019.
  • During office hours, walk-ins are always welcomed, however for more efficient service farmers, ranchers, and producers are encouraged to make an appointment by calling their local service center. Click here contact your local FSA Service Center.
  • Updates to available services and offices will be made during the lapse in federal funding on the FSA shutdown webpage (https://www.fsa.usda.gov/help/shutdowninfo). 

 
For further information, please feel free to contact Audrey Bettencourt at USDA - Farm Service Agency at 530.792.5540 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 

Press Release

USDA to Reopen FSA Offices for Additional Services During Government Shutdown
 
(Washington, D.C., January 22, 2019) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that all Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices nationwide will soon reopen to provide additional administrative services to farmers and ranchers during the lapse in federal funding.  Certain FSA offices have been providing limited services for existing loans and tax documents since January 17, and will continue to do so through January 23.  Beginning January 24, however, all FSA offices will open and offer a longer list of transactions they will accommodate.    
 
Additionally, Secretary Perdue announced that the deadline to apply for the Market Facilitation Program, which aids farmers harmed by unjustified retaliatory tariffs, has been extended to February 14.  The original deadline had been January 15.  Other program deadlines may be modified and will be announced as they are addressed.
 
“At President Trump’s direction, we have been working to alleviate the effects of the lapse in federal funding as best we can, and we are happy to announce the reopening of FSA offices for certain services,” Perdue said.  “The FSA provides vital support for farmers and ranchers and they count on those services being available.  We want to offer as much assistance as possible until the partial government shutdown is resolved.”
 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has temporarily recalled all of the more than 9,700 FSA employees to keep offices open from 8 am to 4:30 pm weekdays beginning January 24.  President Trump has already signed legislation that guarantees employees will receive all backpay missed during the lapse in funding.
 
For the first two full weeks under this operating plan (January 28 through February 1 and February 4 through February 8), FSA offices will be open Mondays through Fridays.  In subsequent weeks, offices will be open three days a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, if needed to provide the additional administrative services. 
 
Agricultural producers who have business with the agency can contact their FSA service center to make an appointment. 
 
FSA can provide these administrative services, which are critical for farmers and ranchers, because failure to perform these services would harm funded programs.  FSA staff will work on the following transactions:
 

  • Market Facilitation Program.
  • Marketing Assistance Loans.
  • Release of collateral warehouse receipts.
  • Direct and Guaranteed Farm Operating Loans, and Emergency Loans.
  • Service existing Conservation Reserve Program contracts.
  • Sugar Price Support Loans.
  • Dairy Margin Protection Program.
  • Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage.
  • Livestock Forage Disaster.
  • Emergency Assistance Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program.
  • Livestock Indemnity Program.
  • Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.
  • Tree Assistance Program.
  • Remaining Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program payments for applications already processed.

 
Transactions that will not be available include, but are not limited to:
 

  • New Conservation Reserve Program contracts.
  • New Direct and Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loans.
  • Farm Storage Facility Loan Program.
  • New or in-process Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program applications.
  • Emergency Conservation Program.
  • Emergency Forest Rehabilitation Program.
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program.
  • Grassroots Source Water Protection Program.

 
With the Office of Management and Budget, USDA reviewed all of its funding accounts that are not impacted by the lapse in appropriation. We further refined this list to include programs where the suspension of the activity associated with these accounts would significantly damage or prevent the execution of the terms of the underling statutory provision. As a result of this review, USDA was able to except more employees. Those accounts that are not impacted by the lapse in appropriation include mandatory, multiyear and no year discretionary funding including FY 2018 Farm Bill activities.
 
Updates to available services and offices will be made during the lapse in federal funding on the FSA shutdown webpage (https://www.fsa.usda.gov/help/shutdowninfo).  Programs managed by FSA that were re-authorized by the 2018 farm bill will be available at a later date yet to be determined.

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Governor Signs Ag Overtime Bill

Ignoring the pleas of real farmworkers and the agricultural industry, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed AB 1066, the ag overtime legislation. This means that California will have the most stringent trigger of any state in the country for overtime for farmworkers, with 45 states having no overtime protection at all. The Governor signed this bill, supposedly to bring “equality to all workers”, yet taxi cab drivers, commercial fishermen, car salesmen, student nurses, computer programmers, and carnival workers all work without any overtime provisions whatsoever. The Governor signed this ag overtime bill in the same year that minimum wage legislation was also passed that will take California to the highest minimum wage as well as legislation forcing California to adopt additional greenhouse gas regulations for businesses in California. California is the only state in the country subject to such regulations. Today’s signing occurred despite numerous requests by the agricultural industry to meet with the Governor to discuss our concerns. The message is clear. California simply doesn’t care. These provisions will be phased in over the next few years ending with the overtime provisions to be triggered at 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.

In the Beginning As folks transitioned out of cotton and into tree nuts, the industry recognized the need to have active and effective representation at the local, state and national levels. Having enjoyed such effective representation over the years from the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, these folks yearned for the same representation in the tree nut processing industry. Issues such as air quality, food safety, labor, taxes, employee safety, and environmental concerns are at the forefront, and there is a significant need for an aggressive and dynamic Association to lead the industry into the next decade and beyond. In recognition of this, the Western Agricultural Processors Association was created in 2009. The Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) shares staff and office space with the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations taking advantage of a unique and opportunistic situation. WAPA is a voluntary dues organization with four shared staff and one dedicated staff person. Regulatory, legislative and legal issues fall under the purview of this new organization for the tree nut processing industry, which includes almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. From air quality permits to conditional use permits, from regulatory hearings on greenhouse gases to federal legislation on food safety, and from OSHA violations to assisting members on hazardous materials business plans, no issue is too small or too large for WAPA. WAPA has assembled one of the best and most capable staffs in the industry, and the results are already starting to show Membership The Western Agricultural Processors Association represents facilities involved in the processing of almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts.Membership in the Association is classified as Regular memberships are limited to almond hullers or processors, pecan and pistachio processors, and walnut dehydrators and processors. Associate memberships are limited to any individual or business entity which is not engaged in agricultural processing, but which provides products or services directly related to the agricultural processing industry. WAPA Associate members include, but are not limited to, commodity brokers, accounting firms, and insurance brokers. Organization The Western Agricultural Processors Association is governed by a Board of Directors, elected by its membership.The Board consists of up to 15 members from throughout the state, and throughout the industry.The Board meets on a quarterly basis and conducts an Annual Meeting in the spring of each year.WAPA, in conjunction with the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, conducts a special training school for its members focused on safety.In combination with the school, the Association holds a Labor Management Seminar for all of the managers. Consulting Services In researching and considering the concept of forming a new organization, the Boards of Directors for the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations instructed staff to perform some of the work on a consulting basis first. The point was to determine the workload from consulting and to determine if there was sufficient interest. In November of 2007, the Association began conducting services under consulting contracts for such services as air quality permits and safety plans.The effort has been so successful that demand has progressed outside the tree nut industry into other agricultural processing facilities, including vegetable dehydration facilities, tomato processing facilities, and wheat mills, as well as cotton gins in Arizona.It was determined by the new Board of Directors of WAPA, that WAPA would maintain the consulting services to provide offsetting income to help with the expenses of getting the new organization up and running.Today, WAPA provides for a long list of satisfied clients in the agricultural processing industry, by providing critical services such as air quality, safety, food safety, and environmental issues (Hazardous Materials Business Plan, Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plans, etc.).