Government Shutdown Stymies Farm Bill Benefits For Arkansas Farmers

Jan 10, 2019

ARKANSAS RICE PRODUCTION - Trade tariffs along with a government shutdown have impacted Arkansas rice farmers and others as federal offices are closed that would deal with ag issues.
Credit Courtesy: UALR

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 

Betsy Ward, CEO - USA Rice Federation spoke at Ark. Rice Federation Annual Meeting in Stuttgart, Ark. Jan 8, 2019.
Credit Courtesy: Ark. Rice Federation Facebook

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.