By JoEllen Black/Richmond News
U.S. Department of Agriculture faced a one-two punch Oct. 1 – a federal shut down of non-essential operations, along with the expiration of the federal farm bill.
The failure of Congress to approve appropriations Tuesday has closed USDA offices across the country, including Ray County’s FSA and Rural Development offices. Ray County Soil and Water Conservation District offices, along with Willow Creek Watershed, are barred from using the USDA facility during the shutdown. Those needing to assistance with conservation district or watershed can contact Kim Williamson, 816-509-1221.
Gregory Batson, acting secretary of USDA Rural Development, sent an email Tuesday morning advising of the shutdown and its implications. In his message, Rural Development will not make any new loans or grants, except for emergency purposes or protection of government interests. Disbursement of the Rental Assistance funds will continue for those issued, but no new contracts or renewals will occur during the shutdown. Obviously not immune from the furlough himself, Batson’s email had an automatic office reply that stated, “I am on furlough without access to email, due to the lapse in federal government funding. I will return your message as soon as possible once funding has been restored.”
New applications for small business loans and loan guarantees are also halted until Congress passes a budget.