Local farmers discuss challenges from government shutdown

DEKALB, Ill. (WIFR) --- "38 years I've been doing this and whenever we've been shut down, everybody's been shut down," said Mike Richolson, district conservationist for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The first three months of the year are crucial for farmers, with many leaning on government help during the dead of winter.

"We've had several calls and had people drop in stuff that they couldn't do house closings, grants for house repairs and so forth and so on, so it's been kind of hard in that aspect," said Richolson.

Richolson's office is exempt from closing, because of its funding structure, but most USDA farm service agencies are closed, including its sister office, which handles direct payments and loan approvals, preventing processing and data to set sale prices.

With a family farming history of almost 100 years, Dan Steimel hasn't felt the sting just yet but with key agriculture reports scheduled to come out in mid-January, things could soon come to a head.

"It's only been two weeks, it hasn't caused me any real trouble, it all depends how long it lasts... further into the year we'll probably be working on the farm bill implementation and some other items, so those might be some issues that affect farmers, but right now, it hasn't been too bad," said Steimel.

With farmers feeling the strain of lower demand in crops internationally due to tariffs, hope seems to be more secure than a paycheck.

"I know I'm good until probably, next Friday, is when we do our pay sheets. I know I've filled mine out but I don't know if I'll get paid on Monday," said Richolson.