Farm Service Agency closed & causing issues for local farmers

ROCK COUNTY, MN - Many people are getting a voicemail when trying to contact a federal agency during the government shutdown.

"We are not in the office at this time. We are on furlough due to the lack of government funding. Please leave a voicemail." That particular message is from the Farm Service Agency in Minnehaha County, but all FSA offices are closed during the shutdown. Since it's closed, some local farmers aren't getting paid.

"There's a lot of money sitting here that nothing can be done," Charla Sandbulte said, who is a farmer on the Farm Service Agency Advisory Board in Rock County, MN. She said people have been coming to her to help them cash their checks.

"Some of these checks are over $100,000, and they can't do anything with them. They had FSA on their checks, but they can't cash them because there is nobody at the FSA office with the authority to sign," she said.

Scott VanderWal, the president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, said this is a temporary issue. But something permanent needs to be done about border security.

"Overall, the big issue is controlling the border and the national security of the country and a lot of bigger issues," he said.

But while the government is shut down, some farmers are paying even more for it since they're not able to pay their loans.

"They're paying more interest every day, and where is that going to come from? It's going to come out of our pockets again," Sandbulte said.

This situation is frustrating for those who are already dealing with a tough economy.

"FSA is there to help the new farmers, the younger farmers and so. Well, they're the ones that are being affected the most," she said.

So it's just a waiting game to get the checks signed. Many spouses of farmers work in a Farm Service Agency office to help with income, so they're out of work for the time being as well.

VanderWal will have the chance to meet with President Trump later this week to discuss these issues local farmers are facing though.