Wisconsin farmers say shutdown is impacting prices, loans and aid programs

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JANESVILLE (WKOW) — More than three weeks into the partial government shutdown groups across the country are feeling the impact, including farmers in south central Wisconsin.

Despite the time of year, Janesville grain and dairy farmer Doug Rebout said there is plenty to do but more than the frozen ground is slowing him down.

“There’s federal payments, there’s all the different programs, there’s no farmer loans that are being processed right now,” he said.

Because of the government shutdown Agriculture Department employees aren’t updating prices on the department’s website.

While Rebout said shutdowns are nothing new for farmers, this one has been particularly significant.

“We’ve never had one go on this long before,” he said.

Rebout said newer farms and those with late harvests are the most impacted because newer farms rely more heavily on loans and farmers couldn’t apply for the federal age package until they had an accurate count of their harvest.

He hopes that gets resolved as 2,500 employees head back to the USDA for a few days to process existing loans.

Still, Rebout said all growers are suffering from a lack of federal data used to market their products.

“There’s such uncertainty out there without the reports from the USDA that it’s hard to market our corn and get a good price for it,” he said. “Right now, the market price is going down.”

If that continues, Rebout said it could mean problems later. In January, he said farmers typically plan out what to plant and purchase seeds for the spring. Without federal data, he said it’s difficult to know what will be profitable.

As a life-long farmer, Rebout said he’s learned to cope with inconsistent markets. Still, he said in a job with so much left up to nature, he’s looking for something to count on.

“We would just like this taken care of so like I said we can get those little but more steady market prices and get the farm bill working on and also to get people back in the government that are working on trade packages,” he said.

Michelle Alfini

Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

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