Government shutdown affecting payments for local farmers


    It is now day 14 of the partial government shutdown but as the government shutdown continues, some Illinois farmers are waiting for payments from a federal program.

    This year, many soybean farmers here in central Illinois applied for a payment from the federal government but some that applied recently won't receive their money until the government reopens.

    "I'm worried about our farmers,” Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth said. “We did pass a farm bill but without a budget, our farmers are not going to get the help that they need with any payments."

    Since the trade disputes began with China, Illinois farmers have felt the effects.

    In order to help the farmers, the federal government began the Market Facilitation Program.

    The program pays each farmer $1.65 for each bushel of soybeans.

    "This was just to even up the score as the tariff discussions proceed," Illinois farmer Garry Niemeyer said.

    If a farmer completed the paperwork before the shutdown, they received their payment. But that wasn’t the case for some.

    "The reason I didn’t, I had two bins of beans I hadn't moved and I wanted to make sure I had the paperwork done at one time," Niemeyer said.

    Farmers like Niemeyer won’t get paid until the shutdown ends.

    "Because those agencies within the government that would be processing any new applications have been shut down," Duckworth said.

    Until the government reopens, farmers are left in the dark.

    "Well since the FSA office is closed down, there is nobody to report anything. So we are just waiting to find out what happens," Niemeyer said.

    But still, many farmers, including Niemeyer, are optimistic about the future.

    "We roll with the punches a little better than other people because you know, you get a set payment check. I have no idea whether I’m going to make a dime this year," Niemeyer said.

    The deadline to sign up for the program is January 15th.

    So, it is still unclear what will happen if the government shutdown ends after that date.

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