DES MOINES — Farmers have today and Tuesday to take advantage of Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices temporarily opened during the partial government shutdown.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig, says it is good that farmers will have a least a few days to take care of year end business. “The idea here is that there is some very timely and important documents that need to be exchanged, checks that need to be signed, things that need to happen to allow farmers close out business in 2018 and get started in 2019,” Naig says.

He says the services available at the FSA offices will be limited. “It really only farmers to address some existing loans for instance, it does not allow for new loans or for beginning farmer loans. Those are things that are being prohibited from happening because of the shutdown,” according to Naig.

More than 30 FSA offices in Iowa will be temporarily open for normal business hours today and Tuesday.

Naig says the past year had its challenges, but farmers are used to dealing with challenges. “Farmers are a hopeful bunch and we are glad that they are because that’s just part and parcel of being involved in agriculture, right?,” Naig says. “I think we look back at 2018 and there is not doubt we saw a tremendous amount of variability in the marketplace and the weather. We saw a tremendous amount of uncertainty in terms of policy — the Farm Bill, the renewable Fuels Standard. All of that uncertainty leads to issues with our marketplace.” He says there is optimism that things will improve as the year moves forward.

“We are hopeful that 2019 is a smoother ride than 2018. Unfortunately with the shutdown and some of the trade issues that continue to bounce around — we’ve pushed that uncertainty into the new year,” Naig says. Naig is entering his first full four-year term and says the trade issue is on the top things he hopes to see resolved in 2019.

“And I think we’re seeing some progress on the China front in particular. We’ve had some high-level negotiations that we hope will bear fruit,” Naig says, “it’s important for both countries that we get that part of it right. We need to also get the NAFTA negotiation confirmed through the Congress and continue to play offense on trade.” Naig is being sworn in today.

He was the top deputy in the department until March when he was named to the top job by the governor when former Ag Secretary Bill Northey left for a job in Washington.