December 17, 2018

If Approved, Aid Payments Could Be Delayed By Shutdown

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

President Trump and several Democrats in Congress are pushing their disagreements to the brink of a partial government shutdown. Trump is demanding funding for his proposed border wall be included in a budget deal, to which Democrats are saying “no way.” Without a budget bill before December 21, the government would experience a partial shutdown. Many agencies, including USDA, would experience closures, so even if a second round of Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments gets approved, they would be delayed until a budget agreement is reached.

“If we don't have this agreement between Trump and the Democrats, this could further delay the issuance of any of these tariff relief payments,” says Jim Wiesemeyer, ProFarmer policy analyst. “FSA offices would be closed, so any payments from those offices would halt.”

As USDA is preparing for a shutdown, they are dusting off furlough plans. Here’s a rundown of who works and who doesn’t.

While many USDA employees are forced to furlough during a shutdown, there are some positions that must work to ensure there are not further long-term economic impacts of the shutdown. As you might expect, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is exempt as are several key staffers ranging from the secretary’s special agents to the USDA’s radiation safety officer and a top-level official from APHIS.

In addition, meat inspectors will report for work. USDA has an inspector and some support personnel assigned to every meat packing facility in the U.S. If the government shuts down, Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act and the Egg Products Inspection Act ensure FSIS inspectors and support personnel will be on the job.

The USDA employees responsible for weighing and inspecting grain for export will also be on the job. The exports of commodities like corn, soybeans and wheat continue even when the government has no money to keep the lights on. Therefore, the people who officially weigh and inspect those shipments will continue to work.

USDA’s website would go down, including the majority of USDA’s statistical reports like daily and weekly export sales data. Unfortunately, your local FSA office will be closed and all payments through FSA, including MFP payments, would have to wait.