On Oct. 1, the federal government began a shutdown after the House of Representatives and the Senate failed to pass a fiscal year spending bill. Below are excerpts from other media on the shutdown’s effect on issues pertaining to the agriculture industry.
By Brad Plummer, The Washington Post, Oct. 3
During the shutdown, the Food and Drug Administration will have to cease most of its food-safety operations. That includes “routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs (e.g., food contact substances, infant formula), and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making.”
This past December, the FDA shut down a nut processor in New Mexico after records showed that the facility was shipping products infected with salmonella. That sort of monitoring and enforcement could become much harder.
By Mike Hasten, The Shreveport Times, Oct. 2
BATON ROUGE –The federal government shutdown is hitting in some surprising places, says Mike Strain, Louisiana commissioner of agriculture and forestry.
“On a day-to-day basis, we’ll see how much this affects us,” he said. “These delays could cost Americans.” ...
Most federal food inspectors — except those at meat packing plants — are furloughed, he said, and the office that issues permits to migrant workers who are important to fruit and vegetable growers is closed.
The cost of fruits and vegetables is likely to rise if the shutdown continues, he said.
By Todd Shields and Jim Efstathiou Jr., Bloomberg News, Oct. 1
The Internet-based system that employers use to check whether job applicants may legally work went dark as U.S. agencies limited or cut off electronic communications companies use in everyday tasks.
Websites that shut down included the E-Verify site run by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the agency sites of the Census Bureau, Agriculture Department, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Library of Congress and the federal and international trade commissions.
Closing of the E-Verify system, which checks information provided by employees against millions of government records, was one result as the government went into its first shutdown in 17 years.
“Business people are making decisions,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, whose department will stop issuing crop reports and processing loans for small rural businesses.
“They have to make decisions today, and the reality is that they are faced with this enormous uncertainty,” Vilsack said. “The fact is, when you’re faced with uncertainty, you pull back. You don’t make decisions you might otherwise make. You don’t expand, you don’t invest.”
By Kelvin Heppner, steinbachonline.com, Oct. 3
The impact of the U.S. government shutdown on agricultural markets has been muted so far, says the chief economist with Farm Credit Canada.
“The impact will depend on how long the shutdown lasts,” says JP Gervais. “Shorter-term I think it’s relatively minor, but long-term it raises a number of issues.”
Traders are working with less information as most of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ag Market Service reports have been cancelled since Monday night, and market participants are beginning to expect the October crop supply and demand report will be delayed.
“I think the next big thing is this report the USDA was scheduled to release on Oct. 11. It really happens at a critical time of year with harvest going on,” says Gervais. “If we go into Oct. 10 or 11 or beyond that, then who knows when that report will be released, and when it or the next one comes out, I would expect markets would be quite nervous about what the report will say.”
He notes it appears the shutdown has not yet had a major effect on Canadian exports at border crossings, adding there might even be a silver lining for Canadian agriculture in the U.S. shutdown.
“All the budget the USDA has to promote U.S. products in foreign markets, that budget is gone. So maybe we will be able to steal a little bit of sales,” he says.