- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Agriculture Department said Wednesday it’s recalling about 2,500 furloughed employees to reopen some Farm Service Agency offices temporarily to help farmers and ranchers with loans and tax filings.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the offices will reopen on Thursday, Friday and Tuesday during normal business hours. The offices will be closed for the federal Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday. The move comes after the IRS announced it is bringing back about 46,000 employees to handle tax returns without pay.

“Until Congress sends President Trump an appropriations bill in the form that he will sign, we are doing our best to minimize the impact of the partial federal funding lapse on America’s agricultural producers,” Mr. Perdue said. “We are bringing back part of our FSA team to help producers with existing farm loans. Meanwhile, we continue to examine our legal authorities to ensure we are providing services to our customers to the greatest extent possible during the shutdown.”

He said at “almost half” of FSA locations, staffers will be available to help farmers with existing loans and to ensure the agency provides 1099 tax documents to borrowers by the IRS deadline. Mr. Perdue said as “intermittent incidental duty,” workers also “may release proceeds from the sale of loan security by signing checks jointly payable to FSA that are brought to the county office by producers.”

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