What Does a Government Shutdown Mean for Farmers?

As we approach the end of the U.S. government’s (USG) fiscal year, the probability of a government shutdown seems imminent. The USG has until tomorrow (September 30th) to reconcile differences in government spending before they ultimately shut down for an unknown period (Cassella, 2023). The issues arise in Congress where disagreements on government spending based on ideological lines have paralyzed the passing of funding bills needed to keep the government running beyond September 30, 2023. To avoid a government shutdown, Congress has several tools at its disposal, ranging from passing a short-term Continuing Resolution to passing all 12 appropriations bills (e.g., funding allocations for government agencies). Keep in mind that President Biden must also sign whatever Congress passes by the end of day on September 30th (Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, 2023). Otherwise, a shutdown is nearly impossible to avoid. Incidentally, the 2018 Farm Bill also expires tomorrow. While we touch on that below, farm bill reauthorization is currently taking a backseat to efforts to fund the government.

What does a shutdown mean for farmers?
Besides a shutdown impacting everything from social security, national parks, and air travel, the agricultural sector may also be heavily affected. Namely, the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Rural Development offices are expected to close (Bickelhaupt, 2023). For a producer who participates in government programs, these agencies likely will not hold sign-ups, accept acreage reports, or issue participation payments during this time. While the length of a government shutdown would ultimately determine the overall impact to the farm sector, folks expecting payments for participation and/or wanting to enroll in a new program will likely feel the impacts shortly after the shutdown. [READ MORE]

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