Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain lays it on the line. Dr. Strain says all Farm Service Agency offices are closed in Louisiana.
Crowley Rice farmer Alan Lawson is concerned about the World Agriculture Supply and Demand Reports being cut off.
Lawson says it’s those reports that guide a farmer in making decisions. “If the ending stocks went up a good bit and you have the flexibility to plant a different crop, then you might plant a different crop,” Lawson adds.
Lawson says rice farms have been harvested and planting season begins in early March through early April. “A lot of field work, repairing and money to be spent between then and now,” Lawson says.
“If you haven’t’ taken out your crop insurance, then you cant’ take it our right now,” Dr. Strain notes.
Strain says matching federal dollars for the meat inspection program have been lost. “That means by July 1 $800,000 that we don’t have those salaries; and one way or the other we can’t stop inspecting meat.”
The commissioner says trade promotions funds have been frozen along with money for the 2nd payment to offset tariffs. “Again the money is in the treasury but there’s nobody there to write the checks.”
Strain explains the partial governmental shutdown impact on the food assistance program known as SNAP.
“95% of the people who administer that program are furloughed. In addition to that, by the end of February we could be running out of money,” Strain says.
Meanwhile, farmers remain hopeful the shutdown will soon end and not linger too long. “Before we know it the planting season will be upon us,” Lawson states.
Also, Strains says the H-2A and H-2B visa programs for temporary laborers has been frozen.