USDA’s food safety inspectors are among the essential employees who will remain on the job during the US government shutdown, so the lapse in funding isn’t halting essential USDA services. Those inspectors will be available as usual to check meat, poultry and egg products. Nearly ninety percent of the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s 9,500 employees will be on the job.
“FSIS inspectors are on site at every plant for slaughter facilities during all hours of operation,” says Acting Deputy Undersecretary Carmen Rottenberg. “A plant can’t operate in a slaughter operation without our government inspectors there on duty. And for processing establishments the government inspectors once per production shift, and that is statutory.”
Helping to ensure that meat processing activities can continue is one reason USDA inspectors are essential. Protecting American food safety is another.
“The job of FSIS inspectors is to make sure that all domestic and imported meat, poultry and processed egg products are safe and wholesome,” Rottenberg said.
More than 7,000 inspectors are spread throughout the country. Nearly seventy percent of the forest service’s 33,000 employees will continue maintaining safety at the nation’s forests. Nearly ninety percent of Agricultural Marketing Service employees will continue their grading and inspection services, as well as procuring commodities for nutrition assistance programs. Also, more than 60 percent of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service employees will be on hand to inspect fruits, vegetables and birds at borders and quarantine facilities.
Other programs not affected by the shutdown include:
Eligible households will still receive monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for January.
Most other domestic nutrition assistance programs, such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, WIC, and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, can continue to operate at the State and local level with any funding and commodity resources that remain available.
The Child Nutrition (CN) Programs, including School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk will continue operations into February. Meal providers are paid on a reimbursement basis 30 days after the end of the service month. Carryover funding will be available during a lapse to support FY 2019 meal service.
Provision of conservation technical and financial assistance (such as Conservation Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and easement programs). Some farm payments (including direct payments, market assistance loans, market facilitation payments, and disaster assistance programs) will be continued for the first week of a shutdown.
Market Facilitation Program payments.
Trade mitigation purchases made by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
Agricultural export credit and other agricultural trade development and monitoring activities.
USDA’s Market News Service, which provides critically important market information to the agricultural industry.
Sources: USDA and NAFB News