U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has extended the deadline for agricultural producers to apply for payments under the Market Facilitation Program as provided by the trade mitigation program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The original deadline was Jan. 15, but farmers have been unable to apply for the program since the lapse in federal funding caused the closure of Farm Service Agency offices at the end of business on Dec. 28, 2018.

“President (Donald) Trump instructed me ... to craft a program that would protect farmers from unjustified retaliatory tariffs from foreign nations,” Perdue said. “As part of that package, the Market Facilitation Program has been making payments directly to farmers who have suffered trade damage.

“Using existing funds, we were able to keep FSA offices open as long as possible but unfortunately, had to close them when funding ran out. We will, therefore, extend the application deadline for a period of time equal to the number of business days FSA offices were closed, once the government shutdown ends. Farmers who have already applied for the program and certified their 2018 production have continued to receive payments.

Perdue also urged members of Congress to redouble their efforts to pass an appropriations bill that Trump will sign and end the lapse in funding so the the USDA can again provide full services to farmers and ranchers.