Government shutdown puts Wisconsin farmers in awkward positionThe partial government shutdown has made things difficult for farmers as they apply for loans or seek guidance on federal regulations.
By: Rich Kremer, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The partial government shutdown has made things difficult for farmers as they apply for loans or seek guidance on federal regulations.
Farmers have a very close and complex relationship with the federal government: They get help with federal regulations, watch government commodity reports and depend on government loans to plant their crops and expand. But all of that stops during a shutdown.
Joe Bragger runs a dairy farm near Independence and is building a new manure storage tank.
“We have some questions as to how far to go with that piping, do we need to put it in this fall, can we wait ‘til next year when we’re putting in the larger portion, the main storage area,” says Braggar. “Those are the questions that we need to ask before our deadline runs out this fall.”
Braggar says the project has to be done in phases and if they’re not finished in time he could face penalties of up to $20,000.
The shutdown is also holding up federal farm loans. Eighteen-year-old Blake Olson was halfway through getting a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan to start his own dairy farm.
“The direct loan would help me get my 50 cows started up, my milking operation, and then I was looking at getting an operating loan of about $20,000 to purchase feed,” says Olson.
But now he's stuck and the feed he was hoping to buy could soon be gone. “I am very upset because we were so close to being done with this and now it’s just put on hold and I don’t know when I’m going to get to go through with it.”
Joe Bragger says the bigger issue for farmers is that the long-delayed Farm Bill has taken a backseat to the fight over the partial government shutdown.