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Small Farmers Fear Shutdown Deprived Them of Critical Grants, Prices

Farmer Mike DeFelice, head of the Hernando County (Florida) Growers' Association, says the government shutdown meant that small farmers couldn't apply for needed grants and loans and may have missed critical deadlines.

By Tim Wronka PUBLISHED 10:20 PM EST Jan. 27, 2019

HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — Farmer Mike DeFelice has more than just frost to worry about this January.

Florida farmer says government shutdown hurt small farmersThey weren't able to apply for needed grants and loans in time, he saysProduce hard to price because there was no federal reporting

"It is frustrating. I feel like a lot of people at the federal level don't really understand the impact that the shutdown has on this small of a local level," DeFelice said.

As the head of the Hernando County Growers' Association, he knows that many local farmers, including himself, missed out on federal grants or loans they were expecting to help them acquire land, purchase equipment, or expand production. 

"We were unable to apply for certain grants that had deadlines over the past couple of weeks. We don't know if those deadlines will be extended. If not, we have to wait until next year when the funding opportunity comes out again," DeFelice said. 

The shutdown also meant that general information from the government, such as price averages, weren’t available or not reliable.

"If we don't know how much to sell produce for because there's no reporting, or we don't know what the averages are, we can't easily make a sale after picking their crops. We don't know what the price should be," DeFelice said.

Many of the farmers affected in the Tampa Bay area are smaller ones who look for federal grants, loans, and resources to help with their business, he said.

Although the shutdown is over for now, DeFelice says the backlog of approvals and funding will take the government a long time to get sorted out.

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