Lamar Alexander told the Tennessean that he is against a government shutdown Michael Schwab, Nashville Tennessean
The government shutdown has lasted nearly a month, and the employees of a federal farm-focused agency with offices in Dickson County and counties statewide have been unable to work since late December.
The Farm Service Agency, which is part of the United States Department of Agriculture, has been closed since Dec. 28.
In Dickson County, the FSA office shares space with the federal Natural Resource Conservation Service. That organization, which is partnered with the Dickson County Soil Conservation District, is still operating using funds from the most recent U.S. Farm Bill.
However, Mandy Cash, the NRCS district conservationist for Dickson County, said the organization’s employees are unsure about the months ahead.
“I don’t know how long we will be able to stay open if (the shutdown) continues much longer,” Cash said.
She explained that, as the name suggests, the NRCS “helps people help the land.”
“We work on private land with landowners to do conservation practices,” Cash said. “That’s anything from to putting an exclusion fence on a creek to stream bank stabilization…Any kind of soil erosion.”
The FSA delivers farm loans, farm programs, conservation incentives, price supports, and disaster assistance in 59 county offices and eight farm loan teams in Tennessee.
Cash said the FSA employees are responsible for much of the data entry of farms statewide.
“We rely on them to develop farming tract numbers…,” said Cash, adding that the FSA employees set up “customers” in the federal computer system.“We can’t complete processing their paperwork until (FSA) is back.”
The FSA has field offices in most Tennessee counties and a main service center office in four counties. In Region 2, which is Middle Tennessee, the main FSA office is in Murfreesboro.
Cash, who just took moved into the Dickson County job, said she has “a lot of ongoing projects.”
“I am still meeting some of my customers for the first time. I’ve been trying to organize and plan projects that started before I got here,” Cash said.
She said if the agency does shut down for a long period of time “that’s worrisome for us because there are contractors that need to communicate with us.”
“We don’t want to leave our customers hanging. So, there’s concern there,” Cash added.
The Dickson County NRCS office is connected to the Cheatham office.