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Government Shutdown Looms Amid Crop Insurance Deadline

Forbe’s Simon Moore reported Tuesday that “without passage of a budget or a continuing resolution, four appropriations areas of the U.S. government would shut down at midnight on March 1. This includes Agriculture, Rural Development, and the Food and Drug Administration; Energy and Water Development; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.”

“Then without further action, eight remaining appropriations areas would shut down at midnight on March 8,” Moore reported. “This two-tiered deadline for a government shutdown is a result of the two most recent continuing resolutions.”

Despite the threat of a shutdown, CBS News’s Kaia Hubbard reported Tuesday evening that “top congressional leaders from both parties emerged from a meeting with President Biden at the White House on Tuesday expressing optimism about avoiding a government shutdown ahead of a Saturday deadline to approve more funding.”

Shutdown Problematic for Farmers

A potential shut down of the United States Department of Agriculture could be particularly problematic for farmers, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley told Brownfield Ag News’ Mark Dorenkamp on Tuesday, who face a fast-approaching deadline to enroll in certain crop insurance programs.

“In between now and March 15th, farmers have to go to the county FSA offices to certify whether they want to pick ARC or PLC (Ag Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage) to have protection from low prices. If the FSA offices can’t be open, you’re not going to be able to serve the farmers,” Grassley said, according to Dorenkamp.

Progressive Farmer’s Chris Clayton reported that “during recent government shutdowns, members of Congress — the body causing the shutdown — drafted letters to the Secretary calling on USDA to remain open for farmer enrollments even though Congress forced the agencies to close.”

Ag Funding Bill Remains Sticking Point

The Agriculture-FDA funding bill remains one of the biggest obstacles to avoiding a government shutdown. That’s because lawmakers are still fighting over “cuts to agriculture programs and limits on Commodity Credit Corporation spending,” “a policy rider to ban mail delivery of abortion pills” and “tying additional WIC nutrition funding for low-income moms and babies to Rep. Andy Harris’ (R-Md.) five-state pilot program to restrict what types of food SNAP recipients can purchase with their benefits, known as SNAP-choice,” Politico’s Garrett Downs reported Tuesday.

“Key House Democrats have been fighting to de-link Harris’ SNAP-choice demands from any WIC funding, worried about setting a precedent over what is traditionally a bipartisan effort,” Downs reported. “Food industry lobbyists, anti-hunger organizations and some parent groups are furiously trying to defeat the SNAP-choice pilot as well.”

Continuing Resolution Remains Possible

While there are only a few days left before the first shutdown deadline, Moore reported that “it still appears likely that a continuing resolution is passed. That’s because similar to the past three deadlines, there may be bipartisan support for a continuing resolution to keep the government open.”

“Forecasting site Kalshi currently puts the chance of a government shutdown on March 4 (the first working day after the shutdown deadline) at around 20%, that’s at a similar level as over the past 2 weeks,” Moore wrote. “So a shutdown is still viewed as relatively unlikely despite the tight timeline.”

Ryan Hanrahan is the farm policy news editor and social media director for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked in local news, primarily as an agriculture journalist in the American West. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri (B.S. Science & Agricultural Journalism).

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