Government shutdown hits Agriculture

By American Farm Bureau Federationfarm-bureua-usa

Johnna Miller, Director of Media Development, American Farm Bureau Federation

The government shutdown is proving to have consequences many may not have anticipated. American Farm Bureau chief economist Bob Young says many of them affect farmers and ranchers. AFBF’s Johnna Miller has the story.

Miller: Maybe you’ve never heard of the WASDE – the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates. But it’s a monthly report put out by the Department of Agriculture on the gamut of agricultural commodities except for fruits and vegetables. Bob Young is chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Young: It’s already been announced that they’re not going to put them out on the original date that they were supposed to come out on. I think the real question now is whether or not they’re going to put them out at some later date or whatever and I don’t think anybody knows the answer to that question. There’s nobody to talk to ask that question at this point.
Miller: And you might say, so what? Young says the report is important to keep things fair for the little guys.
Young: One of the key things for a competitive market is that everybody knows the same thing that everybody else knows. And that’s really what USDA’s reports provide. Everybody knows what USDA says. But when USDA’s report are not available then folks that have private information have that much more market power, that much more market knowledge.
Miller: Then there’s the issue with the recent outbreak of salmonella. Yes, meat inspectors are still on the job, but the employees at the Center for Disease Control who gather and analyze data on such outbreaks and help to bring them under control were not.
Young: Had we been under normal circumstances CDC folks would have been in place right away and able to determine, “Hey we’ve had 50 cases for example, we’ve got to put somebody on this, you would’ve had people in place. You could’ve picked up the phone, sent them off and had them go to work. As it was, because you had this delay you’re up to 200-plus cases.
Miller: There are families who can’t get a home loan because the Rural Development offices are closed, imports sitting in ports because inspectors are furloughed and that barely scratches the surface.
Young: This is beginning to ripple through the economy and every day longer that this goes on it just is creating that much more of a backlog and just putting some real burdens in place for small businesses in particular.
Miller: Johnna Miller, Washington.
Due to the Columbus Day Holiday, Newsline will be updated on Thursday, October 17th. Thank you for listening.

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