By Stewart Doan
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, April 8 – Facing today's midnight deadline for Congress to pass legislation to fund the federal government through Sept. 30 or agree on a short-term extension to avoid a shutdown, a USDA official told Agri-Pulse that “We still believe there is an opportunity to avoid a government shutdown but are working to ensure that we are prepared for all possible scenarios.”
The officials explained that “Agency operational plans are still being finalized, but in the event of a government shutdown most USDA activities would be shut down or significantly reduced and most USDA employees would be furloughed. However, certain USDA activities would continue because they are related to law enforcement, the protection of life and property, or are financed through available funding (such as through user fees).” Continuing services include:

• Meat, poultry and egg inspection services

• Grain and other commodity inspection, weighing and grading 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.
• Forest Service law enforcement and fire suppression efforts.

In addition, funds have been made available to continue the Women, Infants and Children and Child Nutrition programs through June, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has sufficient funding to allow benefits to continue through May.

Most other USDA activities would not be continued during a government shutdown. These activities include:

• Farm loans and other farm payments

• Provision of conservation technical and financial assistance
• Provision of new rural development loans and grants for housing, community facilities, utilities and businesses
• Agricultural export credit and other agricultural trade development and monitoring activities
• National Forest System recreation sites across the U.S. which require a Forest Service employee to stay open would be closed to the public.
• Market news reports, NASS statistics, and other agricultural economic and statistical reports and projections would be discontinued
• Investigation of packers and stockyards related to fraudulent and anti-competitive activities
• Assistance for the control of most plant and animal pests and diseases would be discontinued
• Research facilities would be closed except for the care of animals and plants
Most departmental management, administrative and oversight functions, including civil rights, human resources, financial management, audit, legal and information technology activities would be discontinued or severely curtailed.

To return to the News Index page, click: