MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Cotton Council (NCC) greatly appreciates USDA and the Administration for reopening all Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices and bringing back staff to conduct services essential to cotton producers and the entire cotton industry.
“We are thankful that Secretary Perdue and Under Secretary Northey and their team recognized the difficulties farmers have faced these past weeks in doing such business as signing up for the Market Facilitation Program and utilizing a fully functioning marketing loan program,” NCC Chairman Ron Craft said. “Reopening these offices is vital as cotton producers are marketing their 2018 crop and preparing for the 2019 growing season.”
NCC also thanks the House and Senate agriculture and appropriations committees’ leadership, including Cotton Belt Members, for urging USDA and the Administration to reopen FSA offices on January 24 and restart critical services for America's producers and other industry stakeholders.
In USDA’s announcement released today, the agency said it temporarily had recalled all of the more than 9,700 FSA employees to keep offices open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays beginning on January 24. For the first two full weeks under this operating plan (January 28-February 1 and February 4-8), FSA offices will be open Mondays through Fridays. In subsequent weeks, offices will be open three days a week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays) to provide the additional administrative services.
Perdue stated that, “We want to offer as much assistance as possible until the partial government shutdown is resolved.”
FSA staff will work on the following transactions affecting cotton producers:
● Market Facilitation Program
● Marketing Assistance Loans
● Release of collateral warehouse receipts
● Direct and Guaranteed Farm Operating Loans, and Emergency Loans
● Service existing Conservation Reserve Program contracts
● Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage
● Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program
● Remaining Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program payments for applications already processed.
Transactions that will not be available include, but are not limited to:
● New Conservation Reserve Program contracts
● New Direct and Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loans
● Farm Storage Facility Loan Program
● New or in-process Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program applications
● Emergency Conservation Program
● Biomass Crop Assistance Program
● Grassroots Source Water Protection Program