Farmers Could Feel Effects of Government Shutdown

Dan Agri-Business, Economy

government shutdown

The threat of a government shutdown continues to loom as hard right Republicans demand deep cuts on spending and lawmakers on both sides stay committed to their party lines. If there is a government shutdown, USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small says it would impact the lives of many farmers.

“This would have a significant effect on farmers, in the event there was an extreme Republican shutdown that failed to fund the government. Farmers might go to their FSA office and would find it closed because they were not able to issue new loans,” she said. “And that’s especially impactful in the midst of harvest season when farmers could really use the extra funds, may be counting on it, but wouldn’t be able to apply for new loans if Congress fails to fund the government.”

Torres Small explained as well that several USDA offices would lose staff, at least temporarily.  If Congress does not pass appropriations or provide a continuing resolution, employees who are funded through annual appropriations typically are not able to work. However, exempt employees and employees who are not funded through congressional appropriations would continue to work.


“USDA is about a hundred and ten thousand people, and we would anticipate more than fifty thousand USDA employees being furloughed,” Torres Small said.

The biggest group to be affected by a government shutdown would be those who benefit from assistance programs, such as for food or housing.

“It certainly would have an effect on programs that are funded through annual appropriations. So, for starters, a shutdown would jeopardize vital nutrition assistance for nearly seven million pregnant women, new mothers, and young children who count on WIC. Also, as we discussed, new loans would not be available for farmers. They also wouldn’t be available for housing for homebuyers,” she said. “So you can imagine missing a perfect opportunity for the starter home that you’ve been hoping for just because government offices were closed when you needed them most.”

The end of this fiscal year is September 30.

Listen to Sabrina Halvorson’s interview with USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small here.

Sabrina Halvorson
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.

Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She primarily reports on legislative issues and hosts The AgNet Weekly podcast. Sabrina is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.