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Government shutdown slows farm loan process

Staff writer

After two weeks of silence at Marion Farm Service Agency, the office reopened, though just for Thursday, Friday, and Tuesday, before closing again.

The shutdown has been strenuous for those involved with the federal farm programs, FSA Kansas executive director Derek Schemm said.

“Those programs have different deadlines that don’t necessarily coordinate with what a farmer’s schedule is,” he said. “Some of the significant impact we’re seeing is that whole aspect of end of the year tax implications.”

For Lincolnville resident Randy Svitak, the problem isn’t the availability at Marion’s offices, but outside the county. He was applying for a loan with a neighboring county’s branch to get a grain bin, but the shutdown halted his progress.

“I didn’t even complete my paperwork on that,” he said. “I was dragging my feet until they reopened. Two days of opening isn’t enough to let them do all the work I need.”’

Svitak has to apply with another branch because that specific service is not normally available in Marion.

The outlook within the county has less effect on Svitak because his son takes care of the acreage, and most of that work is done.

“We had most of our stuff done before the close, so closing for a month wasn’t going to kill us,” he said.

While 90 out of 95 branches in Kansas opened for the three days, there were a limited number of employees in each office, Schemm said.

There are usually six employees at the Marion branch, but executive director Sarah Morey was the only one in the office.

“Some of these offices we were unable to open just because we didn’t have any available staff at those locations,” Schemm said.

The decrease in employees led to a restriction in the department’s capabilities, with loans being the sole focus.

The limited availability is a nonissue for some because not everyone needs FSA assistance at this time of year, Marion farmer Gary Stuchlik said.

“I’m sure other people around are, but we’re not ones who are impacted at this point,” he said. “It’s not going to impact us for a while. The time for us would be when we report our row crop acres in the summer.”

Last modified Jan. 24, 2019

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