BASKERVILLE, Va. — The government check hadn’t arrived, and John Boyd was out of seeds.
So he left his family farm here in southern Virginia on Tuesday and went to the local Farm Service Agency office, a last-ditch attempt to see if any essential personnel with the U.S. Department of Agriculture were still working. He was hoping they could help, even with the partial federal government shutdown stretching to its 19th day.
The Trump administration had promised to help farmers like Boyd, those who suffered as a result of the international trade war after Chinese purchases of soybeans — once 60 percent of the market — plummeted to next to nothing. With farmers on the edge of ruin, the U.S. government offered $12 billion in support since September, checks that had become a lifeline.
But with the government shutdown moving into its third week, Boyd was left waiting for his support check to arrive. Other farmers who still must have their crop totals approved by the government to receive aid were left with no way to apply for it.
The delay has been the latest blow to a soybean farming community of more than 300,000 that has suffered steep price declines and bad weather, leaving some to contemplate switching crops for the coming year — or getting out of farming altogether.