Some states, such as North Dakota, have begun to reopen their Farm Service Agency offices.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, offices had been closed in an effort to keep the virus from spreading. The North Dakota FSA county offices are all currently in the first phase of their reopening plan.

For now, meetings will take place over the phone or by email. FSA has stressed the importance of continuing to take meetings over the phone or by email in order to limit person to person contact.

Brad Thykeson is the North Dakota state executive director for Farm Service Agency. Jenny Schlecht / Forum News Service
Brad Thykeson is the North Dakota state executive director for Farm Service Agency. Jenny Schlecht / Forum News Service
Brad Thykeson, North Dakota FSA executive director, urges producers to inquire about their Coronavirus Food Assistance Program dollars and to take advantage of the money Congress has set aside due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through June 15, USDA had processed more than $2.8 billion in payments nationwide.

“We need to get this money into the hands of the producers,” Thykeson said.

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Thykeson said not operating in their normal business setting has been a learning curve, ultimately making the process a little slower.

During this difficult time, FSA offices are working to provide additional flexibility in an effort to help producers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those who have been heavily impacted.

In addition, Minnesota FSA offices are all reopening at their own pace, depending on local conditions. Minnesota FSA offices are not taking visitors at this time, but encourage producers to call and schedule an appointment.

Other states FSA, such as Montana and South Dakota, are also in the process of reopening. Both states are taking phone appointments until the offices are open for in-person consultation. Each state is reopening at their own pace.

FSA will continue to follow social distancing guidelines, as they have stated that ag producers’ health and safety is their number one concern, the agency says. Many FSA employees will continue to work remotely, to help keep the offices within social distancing guidelines and to limit the spread of the virus. Field work will continue as normal, with appropriate social distancing measures being followed as well.

“Our ultimate goal is to get past phase three and then we get back to business as normal. It's a process. We look forward to opening our doors to normal business, and being able to see that customer again” Thykeson said.

Producers can find their local offices information here: USDA Service Center locator.