Shutdown: Some USDA services to carry on, others won’t

Star Staff
Thursday, January 3, 2019

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week updated its assessment of how the lapse in federal funding will affect services and programs after Dec. 31.

According to a USDA news release, many services will carry on, while others will discontinue on Jan. 1 because available funds have been expended.

Certain USDA activities would remain active because they are related to law enforcement, the protection of life and property, or are financed through available funding (such as through mandatory appropriations, multi-year discretionary funding, or user fees, the news release said.

During the first week of the shutdown, 62 percent of USDA employees remained on the job. “As the shutdown continues, this percentage would decrease, and activities would be reduced as available funding decreases,” the news release stated.

USDA activities that  will continue  beyond Jan. 1 include:

— meat, poultry, and processed egg inspection services.

— grain and other commodity inspections, weighing, grading, and IT support services funded by user fees.

— inspections for import and export activities to prevent the introduction and dissemination of pests, including inspections from Hawaii and Puerto Rico to the mainland.

— Forest Service law enforcement, emergency and natural disaster response, and national defense preparedness efforts.

— continuity and maintenance of some research measurements and researchrelated infrastructure, such as germplasm, seed storage and greenhouses.

— Care for animals, plants and associated infrastructure to preserve agricultural research and to comply with the Wild Horses and Burros statute.

— assuring eligible households will still receive monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for January.

— Most other domestic nutrition assistance programs, such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, WIC and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, can continue to operate at the state and local level with any funding and commodity resources that remain available. Additional federal funds will not be provided during the period of the lapse, however deliveries of already-purchased commoditits will continue.

— 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. Meal providers are paid on a reimbursement basis 30 days after the end of the service month.

— minimal administrative and management support, including to excepted IT systems and contracts, to support the above activities.

— Natural Resources Conservation Service offices, which will will remain open to support conservation technical and financial assistance, such as Environmental Quality Incentives Program and easement programs.

— Market Facilitation Program payments for producers that have already certified production with the Farm Service Agency.

— 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 market information to the agricultural industry.

USDA activities which  will be shut down after Dec. 31 include:

— USDA Farm Service Agency county offices.

— the provision of new rural development loans and grants for housing, community facilities, utilities and businesses.

— recreation sites across the U.S. National Forest System, unless they are operated by external parties under a recreational special use permit. While technically closed, many will still be physically accessible to visitors at their own risk, but without staffing at ranger stations and without access to facilities such as public restrooms.

— new timber sales.

— most forest fuels reduction activities in and around communities.

— NASS statistics, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, and other agricultural economic and statistical reports and projections.

— assistance for the control of some plant and animal pests and diseases unless funded by cooperators or other nonappropriated sources.

— research facilities except for the care for animals, plants and associated infrastructure to preserve agricultural research.

— the provision of new grants or processing of payments for existing grants to support research, education and extension.

— ERS Commodity Outlook Reports, Data Products, research reports, staff analysis and projections. The ERS public website has been taken offline.

— most departmental management, administrative and oversight functions, including civil rights, human resources, financial management, audit, investigative, legal and information technology activities.