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Top ag official warns of shutdown impacts on FSA loans

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin's top agriculture official says the federal government shutdown will have a big impact on farmers with loans from the Farm Service Agency. 

One farmer called the state ag department Tuesday with a question about a cow he sold. He said he received a check for the animal -- but because he has a loan with the FSA, he could not cash it without an agency official co-signing it. 

That's been impossible the past couple days, since Farm Service offices have been closed due to the shutdown. 

Secretary Ben Brancel said the farmer asked if he should cash the check anyway, and the ag secretary said it was not a good idea. Brancel said the farmer would have to wait until the shutdown is over, and there's nothing that can be done until then. 

Meanwhile, Brancel says the biggest impact of the shutdown for Wisconsin farmers is the ending of the Milk Loss Contract Program. It provides subsidies when milk production falls below certain levels.

The milk program expired when the last federal Farm Bill expired Tuesday -- and that probably would have happened with or without the federal shutdown.