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What USDA resources will be available during shutdown?

Photo by Dustin Hoffmann

As we come out of the Christmas holiday, we are all going to feel the effects of the government shutdown. This was a concern for farmers. We just got the new Farm Bill done, and now we won’t get to see it implemented.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue detailed which functions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will remain available in the event of a lapse in government funding. “There may be a lapse in funding for the federal government, but that will not relieve USDA of its responsibilities for safeguarding life and property through the critical services we provide,” said Secretary Perdue.  “Our employees work hard every day to benefit our customers and the farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers who depend on our programs. During a shutdown, we will leverage our existing resources as best we can to continue to provide the top-notch service people expect.”

Some of the programs that will continue:

  • Meat, poultry, and processed egg inspection services.
  • Grain and other commodity inspection, weighing, grading, and IT support services funded by user fees.
  • Inspections for import and export activities to prevent the introduction and dissemination of pests into and out of the U.S, including inspections from Hawaii and Puerto Rico to the mainland.
  • Care for animals, plants and associated infrastructure to preserve agricultural research and to comply with the Wild Horses and Burros statute.
  • Eligible households will still receive monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for January.
  • Most other domestic nutrition assistance programs, such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, WIC, and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, can continue to operate at the State and local level with any funding and commodity resources that remain available.
  • The Child Nutrition (CN) Programs, including School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk will continue operations into February. Meal providers are paid on a reimbursement basis 30 days after the end of the service month. Carryover funding will be available during a lapse to support FY 2019 meal service.
  • Provision of conservation technical and financial assistance (such as Conservation Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and easement programs).Some farm payments (including direct payments, market assistance loans, market facilitation payments, and disaster assistance programs) will be continued for the first week of a shutdown.
  • Market Facilitation Program payments.
  • Trade mitigation purchases made by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
  • Agricultural export credit and other agricultural trade development and monitoring activities.
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