I have always thought of the New Year as a time of reflection. I like to think back on the previous year and reflect on both my successes and failures. At the same time, I like to think forward into the new year and begin to build a plan for success in the upcoming year(s). With that being said, I’m very optimistic about 2019. We’re going into the year with a new Farm Bill which gives farmer’s stability and continuity for the next five years. We just experienced a major disaster in regard to Hurricane Michael but I believe that the conversations that are taking place post storm are going to bring forward fundamental and positive changes for producers in regard to safety net programs.
While I am optimistic for 2019, I am at the same time, like many of you, growing tired of the current government shutdown. Dysfunction and stagnation in Washington seems to have become the new normal in recent years. As of today this is the second longest shutdown in history at twenty days. The longest shutdown lasted twenty-one days and if I was a betting man I’d bet that this one will soon take that title. The shutdown is currently prohibiting producers from being able to conduct business at their respective FSA offices. On a bright note, Secretary Perdue issued a statement earlier this week that said he would be extending the initial Market Facilitation Payment (MFP) signup period past the original January 15th deadline.
We continue to work and lobby for the WHIP program in regard to Michael. I do believe that we will receive a disaster payment and I do believe that the program will be more comprehensive than the 2017 program. However, I am not sure as to when that will be. We have tirelessly voiced the need for a disaster payment to be issued in a timely fashion but Washington is currently engrossed in shutdown madness with no end in sight.
On a local note, the GPA Annual Meeting has been scheduled for noon on January 24th at the Tiftarea Conference Center in Tifton, Georgia. We hope that each of you will be able to join us on the 24th as recap our first year as an organization and prepare to embark into 2019 and beyond. Additionally, we are preparing to have several member drives in the upcoming weeks as we continue to expand our network of producers. We encourage each of you to invite your friends and neighbors to join our group. While we all have a voice, they carry a much greater weight when combined together.
That is all for now. I hope you all enjoy your weekend and I hope to see you on the 24th.