The USDA's Food Safety Inspection Continues Despite Government Shutdown
WASHINGTON, DC - Sure, you have probably heard the phrase “government shutdown” sometime over this week when you weren’t buried face first in a pile of Christmas cookies. But what does the shutdown really mean for those of us in ag and/or who rely on government agencies such as the USDA. To help ease some of the confusion, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue detailed which functions of the agency will remain available during the federal government’s absence.
“There may be a lapse in funding for the federal government, but that will not relieve USDA of its responsibilities for safeguarding life and property through the critical services we provide,” said Secretary Perdue in a statement. “Our employees work hard every day to benefit our customers and the farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers who depend on our programs. During a shutdown, we will leverage our existing resources as best we can to continue to provide the top-notch service people expect.”
According to a release, certain USDA activities must continue because they are related to law enforcement, the protection of life and property, or are financed through available funding. These are a few produce-related activities that will continue during the shutdown:
- Inspections for import and export activities to prevent the introduction and dissemination of pests into and out of the U.S, including inspections from Hawaii and Puerto Rico to the mainland
- Some farm payments (including direct payments, market assistance loans, market facilitation payments, and disaster assistance programs) will be continued for the first week of a shutdown
- Market Facilitation Program payments
- Trade mitigation purchases made by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service
- Agricultural export credit and other agricultural trade development and monitoring activities
- USDA’s Market News Service, which provides critically important market information to the agricultural industry
- Eligible households will still receive monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for January
- The Child Nutrition (CN) Programs, including School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service, and Special Milk will continue operations into February
The USDA did note however that farm loans and some farm payments (including direct payments, market assistance loans, market facilitation payments for those producers who have not certified production, and disaster assistance programs) will not continue after the first week of a government shutdown.
To see more about the specific wills or wonts of the USDA during the goverment shutdown, you can view the agency’s full release here.