Government Shutdown Closes Local USDA Offices

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COLUMBIA - USDA offices remained closed Wednesday as part of the government shutdown. The Farm Service Agency, Office of Rural Development, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and USDA Testing Services in Columbia were dark Wednesday and will remain that way until Congress restores funding.

Farm Service Agency reports, applications for loans, and conservation programs are a few services not available during the shutdown. Pat Westhoff, Director of Food and Agricultural Policy and Research Institute (FAPRI), said the biggest problem is information the USDA usually provides, such as market reports and crop data, are not available.

Garrett Hawkins, Legislative Director for Missouri Farm Bureau, said the Agriculture Marketing Service is not operating, which means it's not reporting daily market prices. Data from the September 30th report will continue to be used to estimate prices for the next few days, but there is market uncertainty without prices being reported, Hawkins said. 

Funding to conservation programs and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Food and Nutrition Service is also cut, said Westhoff. WIC is operating on emergency funds until it runs out. 

The USDA web page is not accessible, but some essential programs will still operate during the government shutdown, including disaster assistance and meat inspections. Those services will operate with a reduced staff.