The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

USDA reveals shutdown plan


If the government shuts down at midnight Friday, meat, poultry, egg, grain and other commodity inspections would continue, but most other agriculture-related USDA activities would be shut down, an Agriculture Department official has told The Hagstrom Report.

A shutdown now appears more likely. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said today that he expects a shutdown, according to a report in the National Journal this morning. “He said he anticipates a shutdown. He was very solemn,” a constituent who had breakfast with Reid said, according to the NJ report.

“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 Agriculture Department official said in an email.

The official said the USDA's operational plans are still being finalized, but in the event of a government shutdown most agency activities would come to a halt or be 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). These 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 (food stamps) 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. would be closed to the public
* Market news reports, National Agricultural Statistics Services work, 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.