The NCLBC shall exercise unified political power for the betterment of people of color and consequently, all North Carolinians.

Few federal farm offices open in NC, but they can’t do much work anyway

January 18th, 2019

— As the partial federal government shutdown drags toward its fifth week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reopened some Farm Service Agency offices across the country on Thursday, Friday and next Tuesday to handle “certain limited services” for farmers.

Six FSA offices were reopened in North Carolina – in Clinton, Hendersonville, Hertford, Kenansville, Statesville and Washington – the fewest of any surrounding state. Virginia reopened 40 FSA offices, 26 were reopened in Tennessee and 10 each in Georgia and South Carolina.

But Jay Boyette, commodities director for the North Carolina Farm Bureau, said it doesn’t make much of a difference because the FSA offices can help only with existing loans farmers might have and issue 1099 tax forms on those loans.

“Honestly, opening more offices up but not being able to complete some of the work that the farmers need probably would have been even more disappointing to the farmers,” Boyette said. “This is more of a house cleaning or paperwork kind of activities that can be accomplished in those three days.”

Farmers can't get form needed to apply for hurricane relief because of shutdown

FSA offices cannot process any new loans during their three days on the job, nor can they provide North Carolina farmers hit hard by Hurricane Florence a form needed to document their losses so they’re eligible for some of the $240 million in relief aid for farmers and fisherman that lawmakers approved in November.

“This is the time of year when many farmers are doing business planning and trying to prepare for the 2019 crop season. So, obviously, not being able to go in and secure loans is complicating their process and their work that they have to do,” Boyette said.

Nearly 8,000 farmers are waiting for help from the state’s hurricane relief fund, but the state cannot determine what percentage of the relief fund each farmer should receive until officials can total up the claims from farmers.

“Certainly, the folks that were hit by the storms were most affected, and now they’re being affected by the shutdown,” Boyette said. “So they’re very anxious to see the shutdown come to a conclusion and offices go back to normal operations.”

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