Farm Director, KC Sheperd, is visiting with associate professor of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University, Dr. Amy Hagerman, about the possible government shutdown this weekend, program deadlines, Farm Bill, and more.
“When we reach the end of the fiscal year for the federal government, and that is September 30th, that Saturday, we need to have either a budget or some kind of continuing resolution to keep the government offices and functions open going forward into those future weeks,” Hagerman said.
This possible shutdown has different implications, Hagerman said, including for those in the agriculture industry.
“For us in agriculture, we are thinking about our USDA local offices and whether they will be open, whether we can do business with them during that time period, and October is a really important month,” Hagerman said.
The good news, Hagerman said, is that a government shutdown will not impact crop insurance agencies. Those agencies may not have access to tools such as government reports, she added, but they should still be open.
Also, this weekend, on September 30th, the Farm Bill will expire. In the short term, if the Farm Bill does expire, Hagerman said not much will happen.
“We are in the middle of crop years, and we already have budget and programs that will continue through the end of this crop year,” Hagerman said. “If the Farm Bill is allowed to continue to be expired going forward without either continuing the 2018 Farm Bill for some number of months to allow this continued discussion and development to happen, or to get a new Farm Bill in place by the end of the year, this calendar year, then we start to see some very problematic reversions to really old pieces of permanent legislation.”
In 2018, Hagerman said the Farm Bill was expired for a period of time, but at that point, there was already a Farm Bill in the conference committee. This time around, Hagerman said that is not the case.
If the existing Farm Bill is extended, Hagerman said it would be extended for a chosen period of time while the new Farm Bill is being debated.
“If we are not going to get a Farm Bill by December 31, and it would be very difficult to do at this point, then a continuation of our existing Farm Bill is our best case,” Hagerman said.
Switching gears to some upcoming deadlines, Hagerman talked about crop insurance, forage coverages, and more.
“Crop insurance is a really important risk management tool,” Hagerman said. “I would really encourage any producer that hasn’t already talked to their crop insurance agent about insurance for their wheat crop to get in there, get that appointment made as soon as possible, within the next day, and make that happen.”
If the government does shut down for a period of time in October, Hagerman said there may not be anyone to help producers in the FSA offices. Because of this, Hagerman urges producers to have a conversation with their local FSA office as soon as possible if necessary.