Monday, December 11, 2023

USDA continues food safety efforts through government shutdown

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Some services and reports are on hold

By David B. Strickland

Poultry Times staff

WASHINGTON — Agricultural departments are assessing how the partial federal government shutdown, which has been ongoing since Dec. 22, will affect services and how the departments will move forward if the shutdown ends and if it continues.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue notes that the USDA will continue its role in keeping food safe.

“There may be a lapse in funding for the federal government, but that will not relieve USDA of its responsibilities for safeguarding life and property through the critical services we provide,” Perdue said in a statement. “Our employees work hard every day to benefit our customers and the farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers who depend on our programs. During a shutdown, we will leverage our existing resources as best we can to continue to provide the top-notch service people expect.”

Among the activities that the USDA notes will continue in the short-term will be:

  • Inspection services for poultry, meat and processed eggs.
  • Inspection, weighing and grading of grains and other commodities funded by user fees.
  • Import and export inspections that prevent pests from being introduced in and out of the U.S.
  • Care and infrastructure for animals and plants to preserve agricultural research.
  • Maintenance of research and infrastructure for seed storage, germplasm and greenhouses.
  • Forest Service emergency and natural disaster response and law enforcement.
  • For the first week of the shutdown, some farm payments, which include direct payments, market assistance loans, market facilitation payments and disaster assistance, will be continued.

USDA also announced on Jan. 8, that those in need and participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will receive full benefits for February.

“At President Trump’s direction, we have been working with the administration on this solution,” Perdue stated. “It works and is legally sound. And we want to assure states, and SNAP recipients, that the benefits for February will be provided.”

Some of the activities that are not being continued during the shutdown include:

  • Research facilities, except those that care for animals and plants.
  • The USDA Economic Research Service will not be producing its Commodity Outlook reports, research and projections.
  • Assistance for animal and plant pest and disease control, unless it is funded by cooperators of non-appropriated sources.
  • New grants of payment processing for existing grants that support research, Extension and education.
  • Packers and stockyards investigation in relation to fraudulent and anti-competitive activities.
  • Recreation sites associated with the U.S. National Forest System, unless operated by external parties.

Editor’s note: The Markets page feature that appears in Poultry Times will not be appearing in this issue, and will remain absent until the shutdown resolves and the statistical departments resume their analytical reports. Reports made available by the USDA Market News Service are available online and can be obtained at However, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and Office of Chief Economist reports have been suspended and note that given the lead time needed to produce the department’s many reports, those that would have been available as of Jan. 11, 2019, will not be ready even if the shutdown ends before that date. The agency adds that the availability of future reports will be determined once funding has been restored. The NASS produces the “Broiler Eggs Set/Chicks Placed in 19 States” chart that appears on the Poultry Times Markets page.

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