USDA to reopen all farm agency offices

Washington | Reuters — The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday it will reopen all Farm Service Agency offices on Thursday to offer services to farmers and ranchers during the partial government shutdown.

Some Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices had been providing limited services since Jan. 17, but the move means all of the agency’s offices will be open and will provide more services.

More than 9,700 FSA employees will be temporarily called back to work to keep offices open. For the first two weeks of the plan, the FSA offices will be open on Mondays through Fridays. After that, the agency’s offices will be open three days a week, from Tuesday to Thursday.

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In addition, the deadline for farmers to apply for relief against tariffs has been extended to Feb. 14 from Jan. 15, USDA said in a statement.

The FSA offices that were open had been helping process farm loans and tax documents.

President Donald Trump has counted on farmers for support for his agenda, though they have been hurt by the administration’s trade war with China and the partial government shutdown that began on Dec. 22.

— Reporting for Reuters by Makini Brice.

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