By the end of 2018, good things seemed to be expected for American farmers. Fresh from the adoption of the Farm Act, which re-authorized agricultural, nature conservation and safety net programs, the Agriculture Department announced last week a second round of direct payments to producers hardest hit by President Donald Trump's trade war with China.
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Then parts of the government closed.
The USDA In a statement released last week, farmers were assured that controls would continue in the first week after the shutdown. But direct payments to farmers who do not have certified production, as well as agricultural loans and disaster relief programs, will be discontinued from next week and will not be operational until the government is reopened.
The closure of the government is barely over. Trump and the congress are no closer to reaching an agreement on his claim for border demurrage, and both sides say the impasse could drag on into January.
While some major USDA programs may remain functional in the short-term, this could change. Shutdown will take more than a few weeks.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Food Stamps helps feed around 40 million Americans. According to the USDA, eligible beneficiaries have guaranteed benefits until January. Other nutrition programs, including WIC, which provide nutrition and nutrition counseling for pregnant women, new mothers and children, and Indian food reservations programs, will continue at local level, but additional federal funding will not be provided. School feeding will continue in February.
. USDA has earmarked approximately $ 9.5 billion in direct payments to producers of soybeans, corn, wheat, sorghum and other commodities most affected by tariffs. The first round of payments came out in September. The registration deadline for the second round of payments ends on 15 January.
The effects of the closure, which began just before most federal employees were scheduled for the holiday break, came into focus mid-week.
Around 420,000 employees work without wages, while 380,000 have to stay at home. Federal employees have so far been paid retroactively. However, government contractors are not paid for hours if they stay at home, which causes problems for those who depend on hourly wages. The HR management has some advice: Negotiate with landlords, creditors, and mortgage companies for lower payments until the closure is over ,
The closure also affects national parks, although it is uneven: some are bare-boned, others are in operation with money from states or non-profit groups, while others are closed.