Commissioner Hugh Weathers: Government Shutdown and Agriculture

As we ended 2018 with the signing of the Farm Bill, we began 2019 with a government shutdown. Commissioner Weathers is here to tell us more about agriculture-specific programs and the shutdown.

  • Partial shutdown, so some vital functions remain in place
  • January is a time in the year where farmers are waiting on subsidy payments, loans, and data they need to make plans for the spring.
  • It’s been a tough year already with natural disasters, a delayed Farm Bill, fallen commodity prices, tariffs
  • At this point, USDA reports that 62% of their employees are still on the job, but that can change. The longer the shutdown, the percentage of employees could decrease, and activities would be reduced as available funding decreases
  • SHUT DOWN:
    • Mandatory Audits
    • Farm Service Agency county offices
    • NASS statistics and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates and other agricultural economic and statistical reports and projections
    • Providing new rural development loans and grants for housing, community facilities, utilities and businesses
    • Provision of new grants or processing of payments for existing grants to support research, education, and extension
  • ACTIVE:
    • Inspections for import and export activities to prevent pest introductions and spreading into and out of the U.S
    • Eligible households will still receive monthly SNAP benefits for January
    • Most other domestic nutrition programs (CSFP, WIC) can continue to operate on the state and local level with any funding and commodity resources that remain available. Additional Federal funds will not be provided during the period of the lapse
    • Children Nutrition programs will continue operations into February
    • NRCS offices will remain open
    • Market News Service
    • Market Facilitation Program payments for producers that have already certified production with FSA
  • Last year, the government pledged up to $12 billion in aid, to help offset some of the losses for crops hit by Chinese tariffs. The deadline to apply for the aid is January 15 but the offices where farmers submit their applications (FSA) are closed. Secretary Perdue will determine if the deadline should be extended.