FVTC ag instructor comments on impact of shutdown

October 3, 2013

From fox11online.com:  “Area farmers affected by shutdown” — APPLETON – The shutdown of the federal government is causing headaches for many.

One group affected by the stalemate in Congress is farmers, and depending on how long the shutdown lasts, you could pay more at the grocery store.

Appleton dairy farmer Mark Petersen told FOX 11 he is ready to put Congress out to pasture.

“No matter what side of the aisle they are, because their job is ironing these things out and sitting down and compromising and talk and come up with a solution. They’re not doing it,” said Petersen.

Petersen and farmers like him rely on the government for a lot of their business planning.

Randy Tenpas with Fox Valley Technical College’s Agriculture Department told us the federal shutdown is frustrating.

“The real impact will be felt the longer we go from this,” Tenpas explained.

Tenpas told us 23 agencies affiliated with agriculture are shut down right now. Even the USDA’s website is offline.

“You’re looking for a federal loan, for example, for expansion. That’s on hold right now,” Tenpas explained.

According to Tenpas, certain permits and subsidy payments will also be delayed.

Tenpas said, however, the widest-felt impact would likely be food inspections. He told us there will still be inspections to ensure national standards, but with fewer federal staff, those inspections will happen at a slower pace.

“What if we can’t ship and export products because it’s not inspected? That’ll have an impact and we may see that in commodity prices,” said Tenpas.

Tenpas told us at this point there’s not much farmers can do but wait and see what happens next.

“Just going to have to have a little patience,” said Tenpas.

Petersen told us no matter what happens in the federal government, farmers are going to keep doing what they do.

“Farmers are going to keep producing and they’re going to keep taking care of their business,” said Petersen.

On top of that, Congress has yet to pass a new farm bill.  An extension expired Sept. 30. That means dairy farmers will have to wait for their checks from the federal milk income loss program.

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