As government shutdown enters day two, agricultural association leaders brace for the effects of missing timely reports and look to get Congress back on track and address key industry issues.
The government shutdown spares only essential employees at USDA. During the shutdown, agricultural economic and statistical reports and projections will be discontinued.
Colin Woodall, National Cattlemen's Beef Association vice president of government affairs, says the NCBA is not yet aware of the impact those missing reports will have on the marketplace, but is reassured that FSIS inspectors will remain in the packing plants, allowing those businesses to stay active.
In a weekly NCBA interview, Woodall said he was surprised by the government shutdown, citing all that’s politically at stake for both Republicans and Democrats. Despite the immediate impacts, Woodall remained focused on the long-term issues and the letdown as Congress failed to pass a new farm bill.
With the U.S. now under 1949 permanent farm legislation, the next step is three months away when subsidy prices begin to increase, starting with dairy payments. Woodall expects a new farm bill will take every minute leading up to the January 1 date to complete a new package, and remains optimistic a resolution can be completed.
Although the duration of the shutdown is unclear, the next political showdown is only a few weeks away with the debt limit due Oct. 17.
The shutdown will most likely delay other programs affecting the ag industry until next year according to Woodall. He doesn’t expect the discussion on immigration to pick up again in 2013.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said farmers and ranchers are joining others in frustration of the shutdown. In addition to the setback on the farm bill and immigration, Stallman pointed to tax reform and waterways funding as other key issues needing attention.
Stallman voiced his members’ concern regarding the shutdown, emphasizing the savings a settled farm bill would have on the deficit.
“Now that the 2008 farm bill extension has expired, farmers once again are left with uncertainty as to the safety net and risk management tools that are important in planning for next year’s crop. And come January, consumers once again face the impact of high food costs as decades-old farm policy kicks in,” Stallman said.
The association president remains focused on a bipartisan solution, encouraging Congress and President Obama to get the budget process in order and return to work addressing legislation important to agriculture.