US government shutdown affects farmers and markets

Farmer payments and crucial market information are not being delivered in the US as a result of the government shutdown, which began on 22 December.

Government agency funding is being held up as a result of President Donald Trump demanding congressional approval for funds to build his US-Mexico wall and Democrat resistance to granting that approval as part of a wider budget programme.

Farmers rely on many federal programmes for information and financial and technical assistance, and are among those most immediately affected, reported the US National Farmers Union.

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On the first day of the shutdown, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) suspended activities including the publication of farm statistics and important world grain market reports.

County Farm Service Agency offices were closed, delaying the review of applications for the Market Facilitation Program, which helps farmers affected by the trade dispute with China.

A note on the USDA website announces that the site will not be updated during a lapse in federal funding, so content may not be current or maintained until funding issues have been resolved.

About 800,000 federal government employees are affected by the shutdown, with about 380,000 having been temporarily laid off and the remainder working unpaid.