Lawmakers test farmers' tenacity as shutdown continues

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- As the partial government shutdown continues, folks at home are paying the price. With key government operations shuttered, South Dakota farmers say important money is in jeopardy.

With his engine firing in South Dakota, Jeff Thompson, a soybean farmer in Colton, SD wants to know why they are stalled in Washington.

“Everybody wants to get back to a sense of normalcy,” said Thompson.

Thompson has been farming since 1983. He says his biggest concern surrounding this current partial government shutdown is the suspension of US Department of Agriculture reports that farmers rely on when it comes to setting prices and planting.

“ (It) kind of keeps punching away at you a little bit,” said Thompson.

Farmers like Thompson are also looking for Market Facilitation Program payments from the government as they endure trade negotiations. USDA announced Tuesday it will extend the payment application deadline because the office in charge of applications is shut.

“Hopefully it gets made up to us in the end you know get things figured out before we get to the fields,” said Thompson.

Beyond the payments, farmers are concerned with implementation of the new Farm Bill. The recently signed law needs USDA assistance.

“In order to make the most of the Farm Bill that was just completed, (farmers) have to be able to meet with representatives from the Department of Ag,” said Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD).

Rounds says compromise in Washington is possible, but it will require all sides making concessions. His colleague Senator John Thune (R-SD) says negotiations are not dead despite the president’s wall demands and the refusal of Democrats to meet them.

“I would hope that it ends in a way where the Congress and the president can come together in a traditional way, negotiate a solution that both sides can walk away from. (They) won’t have gotten everything they wanted but will have solved a problem,” said Thune.

The partial shutdown is currently the second longest in history. If it lasts until Saturday it will be the longest.