As the partial government shutdown nears the end of a fourth week, some ranchers are feeling the effects. The Associated Press reports some cattle sales are stalled because checks from buyers require authorization from the Farm Service Agency. Ranchers who have an FSA loan need an agent to co-sign the check before it can be cashed or deposited.
Laurie and Bernard Barnaud have been farming and ranching just east of the Belle Fourche Reservoir since 1993. They were scheduled to drive to town to sell around 50 calves, The AP reports.
"We can sell them, but we can't get our money," Laurie said from her ranch in Nisland. "They will hand us a check, and it will sit pinned on the refrigerator until the government opens up. This is our income, and it's unavailable to us."
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue addressed the issue by announcing early Wednesday that roughly half of the nation's FSA offices would open Thursday, Friday and Tuesday. But the ranchers contend all the problems caused by the shutdown won't be rectified in a few days.
They're still required to pay off the 2018 operating loans before securing a new loan for 2019. Those services won't be available during the brief availability.
If the shutdown drags on for another two weeks, some key government reports about the cattle industry will be affected. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is scheduled to issue both a monthly Cattle on Feed report and the annual Cattle Inventory report on Thursday, Jan. 31.
The USDA’s website has this statement on its home page: “Due to a lapse in federal funding, this USDA website will not be actively updated. Once funding has been reestablished, online operations will continue.”