Shutdown likely to delay payments to Wis. farmers
MADISON — The biggest impact the government shutdown may have on Wisconsin farmers could be delays in federal payments that typically arrive in October, the state agriculture secretary said Wednesday.
Ben Brancel, secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said the delays could include any checks dairy farmers might be owed by the federal milk income loss program, which pays farmers when milk prices fall below a certain point.
Those checks could be among the last ones farmers receive from the program, which ended Sept. 30 with the expiration of a farm bill extension. Congress is still working on a new farm bill.
Brancel said farmers who have applied for or have loans through the Farm Service Agency also are likely to be affected, since that agency is closed during the shutdown. DATCP received one phone call Tuesday, the day the shutdown started, from a farmer with an FSA loan.
The farmer had received a check for a cow he sold, but because he had an FSA loan, he could not cash it without both his signature and a signature from an FSA official, Brancel said. The farmer wanted to know if he should try to cash it with just his signature, which Brancel said was a bad idea.
"Our advice to him was he was going to have to wait, that there wasn't anything he could do about it," Brancel said. "We didn't want him to think well, I'll cash the check and I'll make it right later."