Gov’t shutdown could halt USDA payments

Gov’t shutdown could halt USDA payments
Dec 18, 2018

Nine government departments would be affected by the shutdown

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A proposed government shutdown could delay assistance payments to American farmers.

Yesterday, the USDA announced President Trump authorized US$9.5 billion in relief payments to cash crop, livestock and dairy producers. This is the second round of payments in the program announced this summer.

But the process of the program applications and payouts could stop as early as midnight Friday.

President Trump has threatened a partial government shutdown on Dec. 21 unless Congress passes a bill that secures US$5 billion in funding for his wall along the Mexican border. Democrats have offered to continue current funding levels for the wall at US$1.3 billion.

The partial shutdown would involve nine federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the USDA, along with most of the ag department’s 95,000 employees. Other agencies like the Pentagon, and Health and Human Services will remain operational.

Brad Lubben

The government stoppage means no employees would be available to process any payment applications, said Brad Lubben, an extension ag policy specialist with the University of Nebraska.

“If we have a government shutdown, it would effectively stop any of the farm program rollouts, including the payments under the Market Facilitation Program,” he told “One would expect that, with the second round of payments announced and as we’re about to turn the calendar, (the USDA) would get a rush of applications. But the shutdown would put a sudden stop to that.”

The uncertainty surrounding the potential implications of this shutdown on American ag is another chapter in an eventful 2018, Lubben says.

“You could say farmers have been faced with uncertainty all year,” he said. “At one point, we didn’t know if we were going to have a Farm Bill. That at least looks like it’s going to get done. We also didn’t know how trade relations and tariffs were going to affect the industry. The government’s potential shutdown is just another item farmers have had to deal with this year.”

rarrarorro/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

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