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Government Shutdown Taking A Toll On Illinois Farmers

CHICAGO (CBS)-- The government shutdown is beginning to rattle nerves and bank accounts of farmers in Illinois, including those close to Chicago.

Many farmers count on government help, especially this time of year.

John Kiefner is a farmer an hour south of Chicago. He grows corn, soybeans, wheat oats and hay.

Farmers like Kiefner have to plan their schedules carefully.

"January, February and March is when farmers see an incredible amount of their expenses, they pay rent, they buy all their seed, they pay for their fertilizer and chemicals," Kiefner said.

The federal government shutdown has made a tough job harder. Funds from an emergency farm-aid bill are frozen and government employees who offer several services to farmers are furloughed.

USDA farm services agencies are closed, which means farmers locally and across the country cannot get their loans processed and the farming industry cannot get the data it needs to set prices.

Will County farmer David Kestel says a key government agriculture report was supposed to come out on January 11.

"Some of us are looking to market grain on that date. Well, we might not be able to do that now," Kestel said.

This is happening on top of less demand for American crops as China retaliates in response to President Trump's tariffs. Farmers like Kiefner have to store much of the biggest soybean crop ever.

"So the laws of supply and demands of economics, if we have a big crop we need every buyer we can to keep prices from going lower," Kiefner said.


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