Federal shutdown hits state harvest

Farmer says neighbor can't cash federal check

Published On: Oct 14 2013 06:49:57 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 14 2013 07:26:11 PM CDT
BELLEVILLE, Wis -

With the government shutdown entering its second week, local farmers could start feeling its effects.

Steve Haack, a Belleville farmer and member of the Farm Service Agency committee in Dane County, said his neighbor told him he was unable to cash an FSA loan check because of the shutdown.

"He'd just actually gone to the FSA office to get a check co-signed and there was no one there." Haack said.

Many farmers take out FSA loans to cover operating and other costs. But those loans require farmers to exchange collateral to cover their loans. Often that collateral is cattle or crops.

When a farmer decides to sell a portion of that collateral, a federal employee must cosign the check and with the government on furlough, farmers would not be able to cash their checks.

Ben Brancel, secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said only two farmers have reported the issue. He added department employees' hands are tied until lawmakers can reach an agreement.

"I don't think I'd call it worried. I am concerned," Brancel said. "There isn't anything we can do personally or at the agency. All we can do is make sure they understand their legal obligations and don't get themselves in trouble."