Farm program payments delayed

Published online: Oct 07, 2013
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While the partial federal government shutdown is delaying farm program payments, its impact is minimized by the current economic state of agriculture, according to Dwight Aakre, farm management specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service.

"No big impact," he said. "Those dealing with Farmers Home Administration for loans may see delays but that is the biggest thing."

Al Ulmer, LaMoure County extension agent, said the shutdown's timing is lessening the impact on farmers.

"Without a new farm program the impact is minimal," he said.

The current farm bill, a one-year extension of the previous farm bill, expired at the end of September. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has been named as one of the Senate conferees, according to his website.

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said any resolution on a farm bill is still months away even if Congress works through budget issues.

"We had separated foods stamps from the farm bill and they are back together now," Cramer said in an interview Tuesday. "A conference committee is being formed but staff members are already working on it. It could be a month or two for completion."

A conference committee would seek compromises between the House of Representatives and Senate versions of the farm bill.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture shut down most operations, including local Farm Service Agency offices, on Oct. 1. The shutdown will also delay the distribution of farm program payments which commonly go out in October.

"The direct payments are now a smaller part of the total farm revenue," Aakre said, referring to the current prices for most farm commodities. "But those payments are based on the size of the operation and the bigger the farm the more money that is being delayed."

The Conservation Reserve Program is another USDA program affected by the shutdown, Ulmer said.

"If people have CRP contracts coming out they may need to do some paperwork," he said. "There is nobody to do the paperwork with right now."

The CRP program pays farmers to remove land from production and seed it with grass. The contracts are usually for 10 years and some farmers may have contracts expiring this year. The payments for the program are also usually made in October, Ulmer said.