Yes, the government is shut down and Congress can’t agree on anything. Our current status makes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s re-appointment of Senators to the farm bill conference committee yesterday sort of ironic.
The members of the Senate appointed include: Sens. Stabenow (D-MI); Leah (D-VT); Harkin (D-IA) Baucus (D-MT) ; Brown (D-OH); Klobuchar (D-MN); Bennet (D-CO); Cochran (R-MS); Chambliss (R-GA); Boozman (R-AR); Hoeven ( R-ND). The House has yet to name conferees and must do so before conference negotiations officially begin.
Since the current farm bill extension expired on September 30, many of your programs lost funding when you woke up Tuesday morning. Conservation programs, disaster assistance programs, and trade export programs are all off the table right now unless the House and Senate come together to figure out a bill that will be meaningful for American farmers, or, more likely, another extension to get us through another year.
Of course, we all understand that without a functioning, funded government, a farm bill is moot.
Because of the shutdown, the USDA website is offline until the government reopens so no further information is available. Additionally, the Foreign Market Develop Program on which some of your export programs run (like the US Grains Council) is expected to run out of funding at the end of October. Then again, with no government employees to administer the programs, funding is, again, moot.
We’ll keep watching for the House to nominate members of the farm bill conference committee, and we’ll keep advocating for a future farm bill that delivers on the items you’ve deemed as important, like crop insurance and conservation programs.
Just as soon as Washington, DC comes back to life.