Government shutdown means trouble for farmers at harvest time

(CBS News) POLO, Ill. - The impact of the ongoing government shutdown goes well beyond Washington and federal workers - it also means trouble on the farm at harvest time.

The corn is tall and the pigs are plump in Polo, Ill. But farmer Brian Duncan is preoccupied by the government gridlock 800 miles to the east.

So what's the biggest headache for him connected to the government shutdown? "I would say it's the lack of information," said Duncan.

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Daily reports from the Agriculture Department, which help farmers read the markets for corn and livestock prices, have ceased.

About the monthly reports on production and global set to be released, Brian Duncan said they're not going to happen but rather postponed because of the shutdown. CBS News

"We don't know the value of a hog in the market place," said Duncan. "It starts out as an annoyance. It goes to frustration. Then a headache. And then it becomes a big deal because just because the government's shut down doesn't mean agriculture stops."

As for grain, the monthly reports on production and global demand were set to come out Friday. "It's not gonna happen," said Duncan. "It's been postponed. There's no one to report it."

On the commodities trading floor, instead of brisk transactions, the lack of government data is stalling investment and sapping confidence.

He wants to build a new, environmentally friendly pig pen, but approval for federal assistance has stalled with winter only weeks away. Farmers also can't apply for new loans or receive some government checks.

"The food chain keeps rolling," said Duncan. "Well, last I checked, people still are eating even though the government's shut down, isn't that right?"

When asked what he would say to the politicians in Washington, he said they should try to be good shepherds, try to be true to their calling and try to handle their disputes with wisdom.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.