A Government Shutdown Could Impact Farmers

Haley Bickelhaupt

Sep 18, 2023  |  Today's News |  Legislation & Regulation |  Farm Policy

The days are ticking as Congress approaches the reality of a government shutdown.


Although political debates in Washington D.C. may feel far from the midwest, the agriculture industry would be impacted if negotiations aren’t agreed upon before funding expires September 30,


“You hear this debate in Congress on how Americans will feel whether or not there'll be a government shutdown,” said IL Corn Director of Public Policy Brad Stotler. “In the agriculture community, we will feel some of that.”


If funding is not agreed upon before the deadline, Congress, the Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency will have less employees working, and processes will be paused.


The Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, the National Resources Conservation Service, and Rural Development offices will close. The FSA will not hold sign-ups, acre reporting, processing, or payments. Farm loan applications would not be processed during this time.

Data from the Agriculture Marketing Service and the National Agriculture Statistics Service will be delayed and canceled. This would include monthly WASDE reports.


“If you're, quote, non-essential as an employee, then you won't be able to work,” Stotler said. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency will be unable to move forward on notice or rules, which will be likely to negatively impact rulemaking timelines. 


How will this affect the farm bill?

If the government is not funded, all “non-essential” legislative staff will not work. Staff deemed essential will only be allowed to complete assignments related to the appropriations process and government funding.


Stotler said not only will staff be unable to put effort into the farm bill, but floor time for the bill could be an issue.He said House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Glenn Thompson has indicated the committee will move forward with a markup on the bill when leadership opens floor time. However, as Congress hurdles appropriations bills, floor fights, and a potential impeachment, discussions could be pushed back.


“It’ll be hard to get floor time into the fall,” said Stotler. “How does that impact the farm bill? I don’t think you’re going to see the farm bill if these other things don’t get resolved.”


In a recent interview during the Farm Progress Show, IL Corn Executive Director Rod Weinzierl said if Congress approves a continuing resolution, he expects a farm bill extension to be attached. However, if funding cannot be finalized, Weinzierl said the division could make it harder for a farm bill to be passed this year.


If the farm bill expires, numerous pieces of the legislation will not be impacted. Programs such as crop insurance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are permanent law and will not be changed if a bill is not passed.  However, commodity programs, such as ARC and PLC are set to expire. Weinzierl said later in the year is when farmers could see greater impacts.


Weinzierl, who has been with IL Corn for six farm bill debates, remains optimistic in spite of the chaos. “Maybe everybody starts talking to each other and getting along a bit better than what they’ve been doing,” said Weinzierl. “So, talk to them (congressmen), encourage them…Try and get conversations going.to get that farm bill passed.”