FSA office is open and processing applications for Market Facilitation Program

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office in Waterville is now open again and the four office employees are receiving pay.

Due to the partial government shutdown, the office was closed from Jan. 1-23 and the employees were placed on furlough without pay.

They were called back on Jan. 24 to work through Feb. 8 without pay. Because of the stop-gap spending plan to end the partial government shutdown that was signed by President Trump and Congressional leaders Jan. 25, the employees are now working with pay until the agreement ends Feb. 15. They are expecting to receive back pay soon.

Douglas and Chelan County FSA Executive Director Michel Ruud said that the employees will be working hard these next few weeks to issue payments under the Market Facilitation Program for producers of wheat and fresh sweet cherries. The program is designed to compensate farmers for the effects of retaliatory tariffs of these products.

The deadline for the program had been Jan. 15, but this has been extended to Feb. 14 due to the furlough.

Ruud said that four employees in the Chelan County office have also been called back to work. That office will not be managing wheat claims, but has a huge number of claims for fresh sweet cherries.

Those producers interested in the Market Facilitation Program who have not yet submitted an application should contact the FSA office at 745-8561.