SALEM, OR (KPTV) - The nearly month-long partial government shutdown has left more than 800,000 federal employees without pay. But, local farmers say it has also had a ripple effect on their industry.
“Every day is a gamble pretty much,” according to farmer Donovan Volk.
Some farmers who attended the annual Northwest Agriculture Show in Salem tell FOX 12 they received promising news on Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA, backed by the Trump Administration, announced it is temporarily reopening farm service agency offices, where agriculture loans are processed. The agency is also calling for 2,500 of its employees to return to work. However, they will remain unpaid, for the time being.
The news came as a big relief to Volk, an Oregon cattle farmer. FOX 12 spoke with him at the annual agriculture show at the Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center.
“Well, that means I got to get home and get my paper work submitted then,” he said.
Volk, who’s owned KDR Farms in Clatskanie since 1999, says plans to expand his business were recently put on hold when the shutdown forced the closure of the USDA.
Volk said was in the process of refinancing his nearly 50-acre farm and purchasing a new plot of land, when the partial shutdown began.
Volk tells FOX 12, the USDA supplies loans to farmers nationwide at a better rate than most banks. However, during the closure, he says he began weighing other financing options.
The lifelong cattle rancher says he thought he would have to opt for “cutthroat owner finance,” taking out a loan, he says, would have “extremely high interest or extremely high payments.”
Volk claims he was willing to take the risk to achieve his dream of establishing his own legacy farm and passing it on to his children.
The father of four, who comes from a long line of dairy farmers, wants nothing more than to set his children up for the future. And, his 15-year-old son Jacob says he is excited to take over the family business one day.
Jacob tells FOX 12, in addition to going to school, for years he and his siblings have devoted hours of work on the farm each week. According to him, they “run equipment, go check cattle, feed and just check up on the farm.”
Volk says, he found the perfect property on which to establish his legacy farm, but because of the government shutdown, he could not move forward with the purchase.
“All my dream would be to buy this place I was looking at, because that’d pretty much guarantee it’d be there 100 years from now,” he said.
Now that the USDA has announced it will temporarily reopen its service agency offices, Volk is ready to get the ball rolling on the project.
“I’ve got some homework to do over the weekend.”
The agency says the decision was made as an effort to help farmers with existing loans and provide them with tax documents the Internal Revenue Service requires from agriculture workers each tax season, before the deadline arrives.
Farmers with pending loans do not have to make payments until the shutdown ends, according to the latest press release from the USDA.
A great relief for farmers helping to put food on the table for millions of Americans. Men and women who, despite many industry challenges such as rising land prices and fluctuating markets, work seven days a week to grow domestic products.
Although Volk admits taking out a loan is risky, he says in farming “every day is a gamble pretty much.”
The FSA offices will only be open for three days, according to the USDA.
Here is a list of the locations in Oregon and Washington that will open temporarily, as well as contact information.
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