With Congressional leaders and President Obama currently meeting to prevent an impending government shutdown, the USDA has worked to assure farmers that vital agricultural services will remain in effect.
The looming shutdown stems from debates over the upcoming budget and concerns over the federal deficit. Congress, to date, has been unable to agree on a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. House efforts to pass a temporary stopgap that would avoid a shutdown for a week have stalled, and if President Obama, Senate majority Leader Harry Reid, and Speaker of the House John Boehner cannot agree on a budget compromise, non-essential government services will stop as of Friday evening.
The USDA is currently working to stem anxieties about the upcoming shutdown. Several vital programs dealing with law enforcement and the protection of life, health, and property will be continued. These programs include meat and poultry inspections, grain and other commodity inspections, and Forest Service law enforcement and fire prevention programs.
However, most other USDA programs would be stopped in the event of a shutdown. These programs include farm loans and farm payments, research grants, grants for housing and land reclamation, fraud investigations, and most other oversight investigations. While not deemed vital, these programs are important for many farmers and ranchers across the country.
While USDA officials are still hopeful that an agreement can be reached and have not finalized their plans, they have confirmed that most USDA functions will cease throughout the budget shutdown.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer