Federal Shutdown Impacts Some New England Farmers

Fallout from the ongoing government shutdown is hitting some New England farmers seeking federal loans. Pete Solice runs Mockingbird Farm in Easthampton, Massachusets. He was scheduled to receive an $8,000 loan through the USDA’s farm service agency to buy hay for his cows. Then the government shut down. Solice says without the money, he’s not sure what he will do.

“I’m talking with my hay broker now about sort of alternative payment arrangements,” says Solice, “and the fact that I have a signed letter from the government saying that ‘this money exists and its out there, they just can’t release it yet,’ is helpful, but doesn’t pay his bills either.”

Other farm projects already in the works have come to a halt without government assistance. The National Resources Conservation Services provides funding for farm infrastructure and environmental protection projects.  Roger Noonan is president of the New England Farmers Union. He says without that funding, some farmers will have to foot the bill for projects that don’t necessarily affect their bottom line.

“These practices are for as much the public good as they are for the farm’s good, which is why we have these federal cost sharing programs,” Noonan says.

Noonan says the current lack of government funding is an inconvenience, but could become more than that if the shutdown goes on.