* Below was written as an explanation to the General Public of what the Furlough means to not only me, but to those served by Farm Service Agency. ~ Denise Bradberry, PT.

As many of you know, my day job is working for USDA Farm Service Agency. And, Currently, I am on furlough.IMG_4604

What, might you ask, is the big deal? So, I miss a few days of pay. well, actually, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Our Agency is the end-spout of the pipeline where government regulations, as well as assistance meet the American Ag producer (Farmers, Ranchers, Farm owners, etc). So few outside the “agricultural involved” comprehend the vast differences between a Farm business and other businesses. Ag Markets are set up quite differently than any other type of Market and Producers (aka farmers, ranchers, etc.) don’t get to choose the price they sell their harvest for. Toss in Federal regulations as well as Federal incentive programs and it becomes quite complicated. That said, American producers take it in stride and try to jump through the Marketing and Federal hoops in order to provide a service that each human depends on; food.

Throughout the previous decades, things like conservation crisis, unstable grain marketing, weather related disasters, (just to name a few) have inspired the Government to provide assistance programs. Why? well, for one thing, if the American farm producers go under we ALL go under. Stores will not have food on their shelves because American farms is where our food chain BEGINS. To ignore this fact is a major error.

  • Conservation practices and incentives became a large concern a while back. Erosion is often irreversible and Natural resources must be pampered if we want them around for future generations. Taking some highly errodible acres out of production and allowing it to “rest” is a practice that is so important that the Government created an incentive program to allow accepted acres to “rest” for an average of ten years.
  • As assistance to producers with Grain production, Programs were created to kick in when grain markets dropped to a devastating low. Offering low-interest, short-term loans for better marketing management.
  • Assistance programs were created in the form of low-interest loans for farm expenses when circumstances out of the producer’s control forces him to face total failure.
  • When a drought hits (or other natural disasters), programs were created to provide assistance for recovery.

All of the above mentioned programs were created with one goal in mind; preserving the American Farm and the important role it plays the lives of all Americans as well as providing food assistance to other countries. All of the above mentioned programs are processed through the Farm Service Agency. We are the face of the government to the American Farm Producers.

October 1 is the beginning of the fiscal year for USDA and Farm Service Agency and the busiest of the year. As we wrap everything up for one year and rollover to the next, much is required to make the rollover seamless. Reports, and working through any outstanding actions that are required before ending the year increases the workload. Then as we begin the rollover process in the computer systems, it’s an “all hands on deck” atmosphere within FSA. October 1 is also the beginning of a new year’s budget (yeah, THAT budget).

As soon as we are up and running in the new fiscal year, then it’s time to make annual payments for a multitude of different longterm programs like Conservation Reserve Programs (CRP), Grassland Reserve Programs (GRP) and Grain Market programs like Direct & Counter-Cyclical and Acre Programs (DCP & ACRE). Since these are annual payments many of the producers plan their financial obligations to coincide with the dates these payments are made.

And if that were not enough workload, October is in the midst of harvest. Combines humming down field rows, Grain trucks running,  Cotton Ginning… tis the season for Marketing Loans.

 

And in the midst of our busiest of busy times……

We are all sent home.

On Furlough.

To wait….

For the powers that be….

Tell us to return.

Now,  anyone that knows me knows I try to remove myself from political opinions. Everyone has an opinion and most are not going to change that opinion by me sharing mine. I prefer to just state facts and try to express the “rest of the story” when it comes to the effects and impact of this furlough. It is extremely frustrating to have a “government shutdown” when so many depend on the services that UDSA Farm Service Agency provides. Yes, I depend on my paycheck, but not only that, those we serve, depend on us to be there. Not for free hand outs, but for assistance that over the past several decades have been the only channels of survival for the foundational root of our food source. The word “nonessential” has been labeled on us. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Praying this Furlough ends soon and the Farm Service Agency can once again power up our systems and go forth and provide some of the most important services the United States Government ever created.

Meanwhile, I’ll return to hanging out with my Critters. They lovingly ignore the frustrations life causes me. I enjoy, no need their calmness on days like today.

From my desk,

Denise