Iowa farmers see temporary relief as Farm Service Agency offices reopen for three days

    Thirty-seven USDA Farm Service Agency offices across Iowa are temporarily open Jan 17, 18, and 22.

    Thursday, 37 of Iowa's Farm Service Agency offices reopened for a temporary three-day period. January 17, 18, and 22, farmers will be able to utilize FSA services, including applying for and getting approval for operating loans, and working through paperwork necessary for tax preparation.

    "If you had received a payment from the USDA, getting out the necessary tax information so that farmers can file their taxes from the 2018 growing season--that has been delayed as well," said Josh Henik, who operates a family farm in Mount Vernon.

    Henik says some Iowa farmers who rely on FSA operating loans to purchase fertilizer, seed, and other supplies early in the year to plan for the coming months might soon be struggling. In Fiscal Year 2018, the USDA approved nearly 2,300 FSA operating loans.

    "The closer you get to growing season, the prices will go up," said Henik.

    Now through Tuesday, during the temporary reopening, those farmers are getting some temporary relief.

    "I'll utilize the time to get in contact with the FSA to make sure all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed," said Henik.

    The USDA includes says several of the limited services include:

    Processing payments made on or before December 31, 2018.

    Continuing expiring financing statements.

    Opening mail to identify priority items.

    The FSA offices in Linn and Johnson Counties are still closed, but farmers are able to travel to any temporarily open office for services.

    Tim Johnson, research and policy analyst for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, says some important USDA resources still won't be available.

    "Reports were due out here in the past couple of weeks about planning intentions, or crop production reports, or any kind of USDA report they may use to determine what to do with their crops," said Johnson.

    That means market projections are relatively uncertain. Henik says, uncertainty is just a way of life for many farmers.

    "Being aware of what's happening on a day-to-day basis is important," said Henik.

    So until the government completely opens, Henik, and many like him, will have to roll with the punches.

    A full list of temporarily open FSA offices in Iowa is available here.

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