The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been closed since the end of December, and that means local farmers do not have access to the services of county Farm Service Agencies.
“Farmers who have loans, their loan payments are not being processed,” said David Holck, executive director of the Washington County FSA, who has been furloughed from his job. “And farmer loan applications can’t get processed.”
Holck said the deadline for Market Facilitation Program money was Jan. 15, but Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue extended the deadlines because of the federal government shutdown.
The MFP program, through the USDA, offers farmers financial relief from the burden that international tariffs have placed on their business. Government funding for farms is tied directly to a producer’s actual level of production, but with the USDA closed, farmers can’t get production certified, a necessary part of the MFP application.
“They will extend the deadline by the number of days we are out,” said Holck, who has been out of work for nearly a month because of the shutdown.
Holck explained that not all Washington County farms apply for FSA loans, but for those who do, its getting close to spring planting and some farmers will not have the money they need to plant.
“Hopefully suppliers will understand and extend dealer credit,” he said, adding that others may have to take out loans at a much higher rate than the FSA’s 5 percent.
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Washington County offers lifeguard classes for applicants
Washington County Parks & Recreation is looking for lifeguards to staff this summer’s public swimming pools and beaches.
Applicants must be at least 16, and according to parks and rec, lifeguards duties include ensuring the safety of swimmers and for maintaining order in and around a public swimming pool or beach.
“There is considerable responsibility for the exercise of sound judgment in emergencies, since errors could result in the loss of life,” said officials in a release. “Duties also involve routine maintenance of park grounds.”
The pay for this position is $13.53 per hour.
The county urges applicants to apply as soon as possible to assure a spot in the February lifeguard certification class. All applicants approved for hire can take the Feb. 19 to 22 classes at no cost.