January 8, 2019 / 7:39 PM / 13 days ago

U.S. gives farmers more time to apply for aid due to government shutdown

FILE PHOTO: A farmer watches as corn kernels are dumped into a grain elevator during a harvest on a farm near Dixon, Nebraska, U.S., October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday extended the deadline for farmers hurt by trade wars to apply for aid payments as the partial shutdown of the federal government drags on.

The deadline, originally set for Jan. 15, will be delayed for the number of business days that USDA offices are closed, according to the agency.

The government last year pledged up to $12 billion in aid to help farmers offset some of their losses for crops hit by retaliatory Chinese tariffs imposed in response to Washington’s tariffs on Chinese goods.

Offices for USDA’s Farm Service Agency, where farmers must submit their applications, have been shuttered since Dec. 28.

“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,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said.

The USDA last week delayed the release of several major domestic and world crop reports because of the shutdown, which was triggered last month by President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by James Dalgleish

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