Government shutdown delays important food and farm programs
Just a day after President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress came to an impasse over funding for a potential border wall, ultimately leading to a partial shutdown of the U.S. government.
As of Wednesday, Jan. 2, 12 days into the shutdown, a compromise had not yet been reached. Federal programs and the people who rely on them are in limbo, as are furloughed workers, who are unsure of when their next paycheck will arrive.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is among nine federal agencies immediately affected by the shutdown, meaning that a number of important food and farm programs are currently stalled.
Starting on December 22, the first day of the shutdown, USDA activities including the publication of reports from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and the Economic Research Service (ERS), agricultural research, the allocation of new grants and rural development loans, and investigations of anti-competitive activities were suspended.
Other rollbacks are slower to kick in; on December 31, county Farm Service Agency offices were closed, which will delay the review of applications for the Market Facilitation Program, which is intended to assist farmers affected by ongoing trade disputes. Farmers who have already had their production certified by FSA will still receive payments on time. Additionally, farm loans and disaster assistance programs will be delayed until the government re-opens.
In the interim, some programs are still operating, including USDA inspection services, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), emergency and natural disaster response, and technical and financial assistance through conservation programs. However, these programs will not last indefinitely; if the shutdown lasts long enough, they too will be halted.