The federal government shutdown could wreak havoc on U.S. agriculture and the rural economy as farmers wait on subsidy payments, loans, and data they need now to make plans for the spring. 

Farmers say the timing could hardly be worse as they've already been hit with fallen commodity prices and the loss of foreign markets in President Donald Trump's trade wars. 

As a result of the shutdown, applications are now on hold for a $12 billion emergency aid package Trump and the Department of Agriculture announced for farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs from China and other nations. A Jan. 15 deadline for that program may have to be extended.  

With one round of payments processed in November, it's uncertain whether a second round made it through before thousands of USDA employees were furloughed. 

“Farmers are waiting on that second payment because they need to start buying their seed, fertilizer, and chemicals for 2019,” said Michael Slattery, a grain farmer and economist for the Wisconsin Farmers Union. “The earlier in the year you buy seed, the bigger the discount you get."

Read more in USA Today.