Possible government shutdown delays Farm Bill renewal, shutdown would impact farmers
The deadline to pass a new Farm Bill is Saturday, but an impending government shutdown could delay it for months.
The Farm Bill is a package of legislation passed by Congress every five years that covers programs related to farming practices, sustainability, and nutrition.
Delaware Farm Bureau Executive Director Don Clifton says risk management and crop insurance have become the cornerstone of the bill for farmers, but if it isn’t done on time there is some flexibility for individual agencies and programs before the effects are fully felt.
“Although there might be some disruption, there’s no serious glitches until the end of the year," Clifton says.
Farm Bureau priorities in the bill include risk management and crop insurance. Clifton says it may also support the expansion of smaller meat processing facilities that don’t enjoy the advantages of contract meat production. He adds the Farm Bill that could also allow more farmers to participate in energy programs.
“We have quite a few farmers that have been pursuing solar panel installations on their structures, whether it be a poultry house or a barn or a shed or a shop," Clifton says. "And the incentives for that are, right now, pretty substantial, and we’d like to see that continue.”
Clifton says Congress could also extend the 2018 Farm Bill. Either way, action on the Farm Bill is unlikely before the deadline because Congress is also trying to agree on a new federal spending plan, held up by a group of House Republicans demanding deeper cuts.
If an agreement on that is not reached by September 30, the government shuts down on October 1, which would have a more immediate impact on farmers who rely on USDA programs. Farm loans would become unavailable if the USDA pivots to essential functions only.
And U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said at the White House earlier this week they expect more than 50,000 USDA employees to be furloughed during a shutdown.