The Department of Agriculture has extended the deadline for producers to apply for payments under the Market Facilitation Program. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the extension as the original deadline had been January 15, 2019, but farmers have been unable to apply for the program since the lapse in federal funding caused the closure of USDA Farm Service Agency offices at the end of business on December 28, 2018. The deadline will extend over the period equal to the number of business days FSA offices were closed, once the government shutdown ends. Farmers who have already applied for the program and certified their 2018 production have continued to receive payments. In a statement, Perdue urged lawmakers to “redouble their efforts to pass an appropriations bill that President Trump will sign and end the lapse in funding” so USDA may again provide full services to farmers and ranchers.