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Partial government shutdown affecting Michigan farmers


The partial government shutdown is making farmers in Michigan nervous. 

Local USDA offices are closed due to the shutdown, so a backlog of things like farm loan applications is growing.

Stock reports on crops also aren't being issued, so people in Michigan who trade grain commodities are operating without essential information.

Jim Byrum is President of the Michigan Agribusiness Association.  He says so far, the impact of the shutdown on farmers is minimal, because it's winter. 

But the longer the shutdown lasts, the more the backlogs at the USDA will impact farm business-as-usual.

The delay is especially worrisome when it comes to NAFTA, says Byrum.  Analysts who would normally be conducting an economic analysis of the proposed new NAFTA deal have been furloughed.

"So today, the impact right now on farmers, because of that situation with NAFTA or NAFTA II, isn't very profound -- but in the next weeks, if we don't have some certainty, it could become pretty interesting. It could become a problem."

Byrum says it would be disastrous for farmers and for the economy if NAFTA is neither renewed nor replaced.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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