Thirty – two days and counting since the partial government shutdown began and no end seems to be in sight. The two houses of Congress and the Executive Branch continue to be at odds over a solution to end this chaos. Members of the Georgia Delegation, Congressmen Austin Scott and Sanford Bishop specifically, continue to fight for disaster aid in the House. Unfortunately, their efforts will likely not yield any results until the issue of the shutdown can be concluded. I do think we will see a disaster program in response to Hurricane Michael and I do think it’ll be better than the 2017 WHIP program that was administered during calendar year 2018. However, I do think it will be some time before those disaster payments make their way to producer’s pocket books. I know this is not what many of you are wanting to hear at the moment but we are all victims of the current political situation that has engulfed our federal government.
On a positive note, Farm Service Agency (FSA) service centers will be open beginning January 24 to provide the majority of FSA services needed by producers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recalled more than 9,700 FSA employees to keep offices open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays beginning January 24. For the first two full weeks (January 28 through February 1 and February 4 through February 8), FSA offices will be open Mondays through Fridays. In subsequent weeks, offices will be open three days a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
Locally, the GPA is preparing to host our Inaugural Annual Meeting at noon this Thursday at the Tiftarea Conference Center in Tifton, Georgia. Lunch will be provided and I hope that each of you will be able to attend. I know that many of you, like myself, have been very busy getting 2019 kicked off but I hope that you will make a point to attend and see what the GPA has in store for the coming year.
Special note – the Tiftarea Conference Center is located directly across from Cracker Barrel in Tifton next to the Holiday Inn. I’m sure many of you are accustomed to attending meetings at the RDC in Tifton and I just wanted to point out that this is a different location. I just wanted to make special note of this to avoid any confusion. The physical address is 804 7th St W, Tifton, GA 31794. Feel free to arrive a few minutes early on Thursday.
That is all for today. I will be sure to give you all an update as soon as anything surfaces in regard to a deal being made in regard to the shutdown or the pending disaster program(s).