Many Americans are dealing with the government shutdown at airports, government services, or through other avenues. Here in northern Iowa, a problem is quickly developing into a formidable crisis of its own. While government leaders continually put off funding the government to seemingly befit their own party agendas, area farmers who feed them are running up against cost deadlines, loan issues, non information on seed choices, land rental payments, and other pressing issues before planting. To make matters worse, government offices they depend on at this time of year are closed due to a lack of funds.
Farmers are going into the planning stages right now with regards to planting. In order to get the highest yield, they rely on the January Planting Report from the federal government according to local farmer Riley Lewis.
Some area farmers are dealing with the issue of having to get FSA loans. They approach local banks to obtain the loans and even though the banks will serve them, the FSA loans are not available because the FSA offices are closed. Other farmers are trying to seal grain prices at a low rate of interest, but they too cannot get the funding. Farmers will borrow money against value of the harvest they have on hand, but borrow it at about half the rate that the bank would charge. However, the government offices that supply those loans are closed leaving area farmers without that financial avenue to work with. This creates cash flow issues according to another local farmer, Adam Lackore.
Some farmers KIOW News spoke with have come up short on their loans because of low yields from last year. They will now have to restructure their debts by borrowing against farm equipment and real estate. This will be a little more expensive because FSA loans are not available and they will have to work directly with area banks at slightly higher interest rates.
Farmers who are getting ready to pay rent in March for land that they farm are running into another issue. With the FSA offices closed, these same farmers cannot renew their loans through the FSA in order to pay the rent. While many area lenders agree that there are not that many who rent land to farm, the loss of those individuals in the industry means less productivity and potentially higher prices at the grocery stores when looking at the bigger national farmland rental picture.
Farmers who put off receiving their government subsidy payments from the federal government over the tariff issues have not been paid either. Money from that could have helped subsidize their operating costs, but some chose to wait until this year to receive them for tax purposes.
Despite the circumstances, area farmers are remaining positive about the situation. Many like Lackore, believe there will be a solution soon.