In this file:
· Factbox: Impact on U.S. government widens on 18th day of shutdown
· USDA Finds Loophole to Fund SNAP for Feb.
· From the farm bill to grocery bills, the government shutdown is affecting how America eats
· Secretary Perdue Statement on Extension of Market Facilitation Program Deadline
Factbox: Impact on U.S. government widens on 18th day of shutdown
January 8, 2019
(Reuters) - A shutdown of about a quarter of the U.S. government reached its 18th day on Tuesday, with lawmakers and the White House divided over Republican President Donald Trump’s demand for money for a border wall ahead of his prime-time address to push the project.
The shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, is the 19th since the mid-1970s, although most have been brief. This one now ranks as the second-longest, with Trump saying it could continue for months or years, even as he said he hoped it was resolved within days.
Border security negotiations last weekend between Vice President Mike Pence and congressional staff yielded no progress on a deal as Democrats continued to object to the wall.
The current shutdown has not affected three-quarters of the government, including the Department of Defense and the Postal Service, which have secure funding. But 800,000 employees from the departments of Homeland Security and Transportation, among others, have been furloughed or are working without pay.
Private contractors working for many government agencies are also without pay and private companies that rely on business from federal workers or other consumers - such as national park visitors - are affected across the country.
Here is what is happening around the federal government.
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday that U.S. farmers could have more time to apply for aid aimed at mitigating any harm during ongoing trade disputes with China, among others, adding that farmers who had already applied would continue to receive payments.
USDA has also delayed several key reports on major domestic and world crops that were due to be released on Friday, Jan. 11.
Funding for food aid for low-income Americans, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, is expected to run out at the end of January and could lapse next month unless a deal is reached, according to media reports.
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USDA Finds Loophole to Fund SNAP for Feb.
By John Herath, Farm Journal Media, News Director
via AgWeb - January 8, 2019
As the partial government shutdown goes well into its third week, the budget impasse threatens food stamps for thousands. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue on Tuesday announced the agency had found a loophole to continue funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for one more month.
“We will rely on a provision of the continuing resolution that just expired that allows the federal government to make obligated payments within 30 days of the expiration of the CR or continuing resolution,” Perdue explained in a call with reporters. “We will be reaching out the states to instruct them to request early issuance of SNAP benefits for February. States will have until January the 20th to implement the early issuance.”
The 30-day window for obligated payments on the expired continuing resolution ends on Jan. 21, so states must request their funds early in order to receive SNAP payments for February.
Perdue said there is currently no plan in place to provide SNAP benefits beyond the end of February...
From the farm bill to grocery bills, the government shutdown is affecting how America eats
Stories from a shutdown—from food safety and hog nuisance lawsuits to EBT payments and "shutdown specials" at D.C. restaurants.
by New Food Economy
January 8th, 2019
On Twitter, federal employees and others affected by the ongoing government shutdown are sharing their #shutdownstories—and, not surprisingly, many of them are focused on food. That isn’t just because people anticipating missed paychecks are worried about their grocery bills, though concerns about hunger appear to be widespread. Many have described making tough choices between fuel, meals, and medical care.
And it goes beyond basic sustenance. A USDA science tech reported not being able to enter a government greenhouse to water plants, a setback she said would ultimately cost scientists a year of work. A woman about to close on a new house described being left in limbo, thanks to a USDA rural development loan now delayed indefinitely. (“The only wall(s) I care about are the ones that support the roof I want my children to be able to live under,” she wrote.) A farmer who moonlights as a federal contractor said the shutdown would “cost me $500 a day,” making it impossible to “hire, purchase and grow.” And at USDA headquarters, reports are that staff refrigerators are all but emptied out.
Here’s how the shutdown continues to affect:
Food safety. In a primer first reported by Food Safety News, Alliance for a Stronger FDA (ASFDA), a nonprofit advocate, explained that the shutdown may significantly affect oversight of the food supply. During the current “lapse period,” ASFDA wrote, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be hobbled, though still able to perform “activities necessary to address imminent threats to the safety of human life.” According to the document, 41 percent of FDA’s employees will be furloughed (about 7,000 people). While the agency’s most critical public health responsibilities won’t be affected—with staff on hand to handle key duties like emergency inspections and drug shortages—other, more routine work will be suspended. That could cause issues.
“Food safety will be particularly hard-hit, including the furloughing of workers in charge of routine inspections,” according to the document, though FDA will still be staffed to handle urgent and high-risk recalls and outbreaks of foodborne illness.
The brand-spanking-new farm bill. Congress spent most of 2018 intensely haggling over the farm bill. Then, two days after President Trump signed it into law on December 20, the government shut down. Now, says Anna Johnson, policy manager of the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Nebraska, “should be one of the busiest times at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): they have hundreds of pages of new marching orders in the new farm bill.” Instead of poring through those pages, though, some USDA employees are likely at home, reading People magazine.
Farm payments. There’s something of a 50/50 split here: some continue, others are on hold. Market Facilitation Program payments, for example, which relieve commodity producers whose access to export markets has been stymied by the recent retaliatory tariffs, will go out. So will payments related to conservation easements. But rural development loans and grants for housing, community facilities, utilities, and businesses will not continue. Processing of payments for existing grants to support research, education, and agricultural extension services have been halted, too.
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Nuisance lawsuits ...
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more, including links
Secretary Perdue Statement on Extension of Market Facilitation Program Deadline
Source: USDA Office of Communications
Jan 8, 2019
(Washington, D.C., January 8, 2019) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today extended the deadline for agricultural producers to apply for payments under the Market Facilitation Program as provided by the trade mitigation program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The original deadline had been January 15, 2019, but farmers have been unable to apply for the program since the lapse in federal funding caused the closure of USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices at the end of business on December 28, 2018.
Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:
“President Trump instructed me, as Secretary of Agriculture, to craft a program that would protect farmers from unjustified retaliatory tariffs from foreign nations. As part of that package, the Market Facilitation Program has been making payments directly to farmers who have suffered trade damage. Using existing funds, we were able to keep FSA offices open as long as possible, but unfortunately had to close them when funding ran out. We will therefore extend the application deadline for a period of time equal to the number of business days FSA offices were closed, once the government shutdown ends. Farmers who have already applied for the program and certified their 2018 production have continued to receive payments. Meanwhile, I continue to urge members of Congress to redouble their efforts to pass an appropriations bill that President Trump will sign and end the lapse in funding so that we may again provide full services to our farmers and ranchers.”
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