GOV SHUTDOWN SLOWS FARMERS - Arkansas produces a lot of agriculture products, including soybeans and rice. Tuesday the Arkansas Rice Association’s Annual Meeting took place in Stuttgart. It’s a key event for Arkansas’s ag-industry and on the minds of many was the impact of trade tariff’s on U.S. agriculture products and the current government shut-down. Among those speaking was Betsy Ward, president and CEO of the USA Rice Federation, a group that promotes the nation’s rice industry and also worked on the recent FARM BILL that was approved in Congress. She told Ark. Public Radio’s KUAR how the government shutdown is affecting farmers in Arkansas and elsewhere.
"We got a Farm Bill passed and now we are going to
have difficulty unless the government opens up having farmers go sign up and finish off their loans from last year.," explained Ward. "The FSA offices are primarily shuttered, so it makes it very difficult to move forward in this new crop year with those folks not working. In Washington, everybody we work with at USDA is on furlough so they’re not available to – they’re really not permitted to actually work, so you can’t contact them if you have questions. "
Ward also said her association relies on USDA funding to promote Arkansas ag products overseas and due to the government shut-down, that funding has been suspended.