Government Shutdown Update
Posted on 01/24/2019 at 12:03 PM by Emily Staudacher
USDA FSA Offices to Reopen Today
Secretary Perdue announced that all FSA offices will reopen today through February 8 from 8 am to 4:30 pm on weekdays. In subsequent weeks, offices will open three days a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays if needed to provide the additional services. FSA will provide an array of services including assistance with the Market Facilitation Program applications and certifications. The Secretary also announced that the new deadline for MFP applications is February 14. Additional services provided during this period include:
- Marketing Assistance Loans
- Release of collateral warehouse receipts
- Direct and Guaranteed Farm Operating Loans, and Emergency Loans
- Service existing Conservation Reserve Program contracts
- Sugar Price Support Loans
- Dairy Margin Protection Program
- Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage
- Livestock Forage Disaster
- Emergency Assistance Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program
- Livestock Indemnity Program
- Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program
- Tree Assistance Program
- Remaining Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program payments for applications already processed.
USDA Exploring Options for March SNAP Benefits
The plan for March SNAP benefits remain up in the air. The latest word from the USDA is that they “continue to examine options for SNAP for March.” Department officials have declined to discuss what options they have, but did confirm that the USDA has a $3 billion reserve fund. The result could be a long wait for millions of people who received their February SNAP benefits early. In Iowa, the Department of Human Services issued SNAP benefits, known in Iowa as Food Assistance, on January 17, 2019 instead of the regular February dates. If the government shutdown continues into March, it is unclear how long SNAP households may have to wait for their benefits. In February, the USDA used a provision in the expired continuing resolution from January to pay out $4.8 billion in benefits, so it is unclear if the USDA could scrape together funds for March benefits. Nearly 20 million households use SNAP benefits each month, and about 80% of benefits are spent within two weeks of receiving them. The continued delay of March benefits could create a dire situation in millions of households and have a substantial impact on the economy, which depends on the revenue stream from those benefits.
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