The government shutdown is now affecting farmers and growers in southern Miami-Dade County, whose business is the county's most important industry behind tourism.
The only U.S. Department of Agriculture office servicing the area is closed, its workers furloughed, and the financial aid and professional compliance and advisory services are unavailable.
Case in point is Kim Sizemore, who was completing the last step of a loan application for $300,000 to keep her family's farm operating until the harvest. She showed up for a scheduled interview at the USDA Farm Service Agency office October 1, the first day of the shutdown, only to find a note taped to the door reading: "The U.S. Department of Agriculture office is currently closed due to the lapse in federal government funding."
"I broke down and started crying in the parking lot," said Sizemore. "They are considered the lender of last resort."
Sizemore said commercial lenders decline loans to high-risk businesses like farming. Typically, the crop and equipment is used as collateral.
"I don't know what we're going to do. I really don't," said Sizemore.
While loans and disaster relief for crises like storms or winter freezes are administered out of the USDA's Farm Service Agency, the Florida City office also houses the Natural Resources Conservation Service where farmers can get assistance with clean water standard compliance, chemicals, and pest control.
"This place is usually full with cars, people coming in to do different business," said Lionel Balgin, who works at an office next to the USDA.