CHIPPEWA FALLS — George Polzin said the partial federal government shutdown is starting to have a significant effect on Chippewa Valley farmers.
“The major impact on agriculture for us is the government offices are closed, and the services they provide aren’t available, such as corn loans,” said Polzin, who farms in the town of Goetz, north of Cadott. “Some have to sign up for the Trump tariff payments, and those aren’t available right now. And some food inspection places aren’t open.”
Polzin said farmers are struggling, and the government shutdown, paired with tariffs, isn’t helping. Corn and milk prices remain low, he added.
“Just about any aspect of agriculture is to a point where it’s not profitable right now. This is as tough as I’ve seen it,” Polzin said. “Usually, something is good to balance out something that isn’t good.”
Farmers are eligible to receive a rebate for lost corn income, but it’s only one cent per bushel, he added.
Polzin said he’s in better shape than other farmers, as he’s been in the industry longer, and his wife’s employer provides insurance. But there are still significant bills to pay. He already sold all his corn to pay for fertilizer for this year’s crops.
“Farmers like myself pay a substantial amount of property taxes because we own a lot of property.”
Polzin was hesitant to blame either major political party for the shutdown, but he added, “I don’t think the current administration is doing us any favors.”
“China is usually our biggest importer of soybeans, and I heard (Tuesday) morning they imported zero tons last month. That can’t help us.”
Jerry Clark, Chippewa County UW-Extension agriculture agent, said the largest impact he’s seen is on the relief dollars that President Donald Trump offered to farmers because of the tariffs.
“It’s the (loss of) the support services of the farm programs,” Clark said. “It’ might delay some payments. (The shutdown) slows everything down, or eliminates those incentive payments. It’s just one more punch in the gut (farmers) have to overcome.”
Clark said farmers might be able to get by a little bit longer, but not having paychecks will change their payment structure on their bills.
Clark also was cautious about where to place the blame for the shutdown.
“It’s open to interpretation who is at fault,” he said. “Farmers are being affected by a decision that is definitely political.”
While the weather has been mild so far this winter, Clark said he’d prefer to see more snow on top of the alfalfa to protect it from deep freezing.
Randy Woodruff, who farms in the town of Eagle Point, north of Chippewa Falls, said one of the impacts of the shutdown is a routine crop report issued by the USDA isn’t being released, and that is impacting markets because farmers don’t know future prices.
Woodruff said he applied for the federal relief dollars that Trump promised because of tariffs hurting farmers.
“Those federal payments aren’t going out because they haven’t been processed,” Woodruff said. “We reported it, but we haven’t gotten any payment.”
Woodruff said the tariffs are the bigger problem.
“It’s hurting farmers quite a bit. We can’t make a profit on what we grow.”
Woodruff blames both political parties equally.
“They need to work together and be able to compromise,” Woodruff said. “They are only hurting the public.
Brad Peck, who farms in the town of Hallie, said he also applied for corn relief dollars.
“Everybody’s concerned. The milk prices have been low for four years,” Peck said.
Peck milks 170 cows on his farm. He’s been able to sell all his milk, but he’s not making money.
“Eventually, something will have to change,” Peck said.
Like Polzin, Peck has no corn left to sell.
“We needed the money,” he said.