Will Congress manage to avoid a government shutdown? If they don't pass a spending bill by midnight tonight, here's what you can expect to see change.
On the eve of a government shutdown, officials in the Beltway continue to bicker about a proposed spending bill. The crisis has momentarily shifted agriculture producers' focus from a much-needed farm bill, which is also set to expire Monday at midnight, to a potential government shutdown that would limit many day-to-day government activities. This would be the first shutdown in 17 years.
So what would a government shutdown mean to ag producers?
Staff members at our sister publication Farm Press have diligently covered the farm bill debate and the budget battle. David Bennett reports that a document found on a USDA website, updated Sept. 27, says the department is "working to ensure that we are prepared for all possible scenarios. Agency operational plans are still being finalized, but in the event of a government shutdown most USDA activities would be shut down or significantly reduced and most USDA employees would be furloughed."
However, certain USDA activities related to law enforcement, protection of life and property, or funded by available financing will continue. According to Reuters, meat inspectors would be one of those areas considered to be vital to national safety and would stay on the job.
Among USDA activities that would not continue during a government shutdown:
Market news reports, National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) statistics, and other agricultural economic and statistical reports and projections would be discontinued.
Research facilities would be closed except for the care for animals, plants and associated infrastructure to preserve agricultural research.
Provision of new grants or processing of payments for existing grants to support research, education, and Extension.
Economic Research Service (ERS) Commodity Outlook Reports, Data Products, research reports, staff analysis, and projections would be discontinued. The ERS public website would be taken offline.
Do you think a spending bill will be passed today? What questions do you have about the looming shutdown? Are you optimistic about a new farm bill in 2013? Leave your comments below.
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