This is the time of year when farmers open their mailboxes to find annual federal government checks.
"They can count on it, it's a government check," said Diana Strouse, county executive director for the Huron and Erie County Farm Service Agency.
This year, as long as the federal government remains shut down, producers won't be able to count on those payments, Strouse said.
She said she wishes she could help them, but she's unemployed.
"Our office is locked tighter than a drum," she said.
That's because the Huron and Erie County Farm Service Agency falls under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Strouse, who writes a weekly column each Saturday in the Norwalk Reflector to remind producers about payments, deadlines and other agricultural information, cannot even write that until further notice. She added that if she writes the article, and it's published, she could be fined $5,000 and receive a two-year jail sentence because she'd be breaking a federal law. She said she cannot use any government equipment to do work related to her job. She added she can't even write the article or do any other work from home.
"It's not good news," she said. "I would love to do my newspaper article so the guys know what's going on," Strouse said.
A story about the shutdown and effect on local farmers was published in Tuesday's Norwalk Reflector.