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TULSA (AP) — The ongoing government shutdown could soon have a negative impact on Oklahoma farmers and ranchers, who are facing limited access to important data and funding sources, according to agriculture experts.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering limited statistical services during the shutdown, The Tulsa World reported . Farmers and ranchers use those services to make planning and marketing decisions.
Roy Lee Lindsey, the executive director of the Oklahoma Pork Council, said he’s concerned about data access, which is particularly important now because trade disputes have limited exports to some markets.
Records on the number of animals slaughtered and how much they weighed aren’t being kept, which could lead to an over- or under-supply of the market in the long run, Lindsey said.
The shutdown has also closed Farm Service Agency offices, which offer a range of government programs, including soil and water conservation and economic analysis.
The agency also processes federal farm loans, which are vital to farmers, said Terry Detrick, president of American Farmers and Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union.
“Livestock need to be cared for and the feed bills need to be paid,” Detrick said. “Expenses keep piling up. Producers operating with FSA Farm Credit loans cannot get their money in time to pay bills and are being hurt the most from this shutdown.”
Rodd Moesel, president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, said he’s heard few complaints so far. Some farmers and ranchers haven’t been able to deposit government checks because they must be endorsed but an FSA official, but the impact has been minimal so far, he said.