About 24 hours before President Donald Trump announced a deal to reopent the Federal Government, FSA workers were going back to work with the promise of getting paid when the shutdown ended.
Jack Kelly, the current Harvey County executive director for the Farm Service Agency, has worked for the FSA for 34 years. He had planned to end his career in 2018.
"I was supposed to retire in December, but that got all screwed up," Kelly said.
He is one of 20 people who work in the USDA Newton Service Center at 1405 S. Spencer Road. All of them, he said, have been affected by a government shutdown — the result of a legislative battle on capitol hill in Washington, D.C. The government was set to reopen for three weeks after a deal announced by President Trump Jan. 25.
Just how those people working in the Newton USDA office have been affected depends on what program they work for — there are three. There is a soil conservation district, farm service agency and rural development agency housed in the USDA service center.
As of Friday, seven of the 20 people in the office are working — some without pay until the shutdown ends. The other 13 are furloughed, awaiting the end of the shutdown period. Those working for the soil conservation program have not been affected, as their funding stream has not been part of the shutdown.
"Two of our three agencies have a presence there now," Kelly said.
Rural development workers have been gone since Dec. 31. That same day, FSA was only open for limited services — serving farm loans. On the 24th, the FSA returned to offering full services — with workers promised payment when the shutdown ends.
"We will work for two weeks under that," Kelly said.
There are five FSA workers in the Newton office.
According to the USDA, Farm Service Agency offices nationwide are reopening to provide administrative services to farmers and ranchers during a lapse in federal funding due to the federal government shutdown.
"We are glad to be back serving our producers and the public, as we know the shutdown has caused financial havoc for many," wrote David K. Schemm, State Executive Director Kansas Farm Service Agency, in an email to media. "Our focus and priorities right now will be assisting producers all across Kansas in the program areas that have been approved. When the shutdown ends, we anticipate being released to work at our full function, in all programs and on a regular office schedule."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has temporarily recalled all of the more than 9,700 FSA employees to keep offices open. President Trump has signed legislation that guarantees employees will receive all backpay missed during the lapse in funding.
All 96 Kansas FSA offices opened January 24 and 25. The plan was for offices will be open Mondays through Fridays for two weeks with curtailed hours in subsequent weeks.
The deadline to apply for the Market Facilitation Program, which aids farmers harmed by unjustified retaliatory tariffs, has been extended to Feb. 14. The original deadline had been Jan. 15. Other program deadlines may be modified and will be announced as they are addressed.
“At President Trump’s direction, we have been working to alleviate the effects of the lapse in federal funding as best we can, and we are happy to announce the reopening of FSA offices for certain services,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “The FSA provides vital support for farmers and ranchers and they count on those services being available. We want to offer as much assistance as possible until the partial government shutdown is resolved.”