The partial government shutdown is over- at least for now. Trump hasn’t yet received funding for his wall, but has given Congress a deadline to get the job done. In the meantime, the Farmers Union is urging producers to get into government offices to take care of business. It’s possible the government could be shutting down again in just a few short weeks.
Open For Business
On January 25, President Trump announced during a speech in the White House Rose Garden that he and congress had reached a deal regarding the partial government shutdown. The Fence Post provided coverage of the event.
Trump calls the agreement a temporary one, and that it will last for 3 weeks. During this time he has called for further negotiations to discuss building of concrete or steel barriers along the US/Mexico border. Trump had said previously that he wouldn’t open the government unless he got money for the wall. Democrats in the House stood their ground and would not agree to any bill funding a wall. Hence, the shutdown.
Many are saying Trump caved, but he’s insisting that he hasn’t given in. But his poll numbers are slipping. Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy from Vermont sums up the general sentiment.
“For 35 days, President Trump has robbed hundreds of thousands of American families of their paychecks, forcing dedicated public servants to turn to foodbanks and unemployment benefits to feed and support their families.”
Trump Still Wants His Wall
Trump is threatening to shut the government again in 3 weeks if his request is not met. If Congress doesn’t agree to fund a border barrier by February 15, the government will close. Or, he will use his Presidential powers to declare a national emergency and build it anyway.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says that border wall legislation will take priority over any other legislation. In contrast, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York said,
“Also we will pass legislation in the Senate related to the Department of Homeland Security so the House and Senate can participate in a conference committee on that legislation,” Schumer said. “In the conference Democrats and Republicans will have the opportunity to negotiate the details of the Homeland Security bill which includes issues of border security, humanitarian aid, drug inspection technology and many others.”
Trump’s Recent Moves Have Hurt Many
Trump’s wall puts him in an interesting position with farmers, many of which are staunch supporters. Trump wants to stop illegal immigration and fulfill his campaign promise to build a wall, but also realizes that many farmers rely on immigrants for labor.
In addition, the government shutdown had closed many of the offices that farmers utilize heavily. This includes the Agriculture Department, the Food and Drug Administration and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Many farmers have not been able to apply for MFP funds, or make secure plans for next season due to the shutdown.
And don’t forget the trade war.
Jim Wiesemeyer of Drovers says the shutdown had closed nine cabinet departments, but excluded those deemed critical to protection of life and human property. Over 400,000 critical government employees, like air-traffic controllers and airport security screeners have worked throughout the 35 day shutdown. All federal employees, which include around 800,000 people, have now missed two paychecks.
Federal employees will be back on the job Monday. They will receive the back pay from missed paychecks.
Farmers Should Get Business Done Now
Larry Lee of Brownfield Ag News spoke with National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson (L) and Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden (R), about what farmers need to do now that the government is back in business.
The Farmers Union is urging farmers to get their FSA business done quickly just in case the government shuts down again. Johnson said,
“Certainly go in and get whatever business you need to get done during these few weeks for, particularly about beginning farmers that may have been waiting on a farm ownership loan. Get in and do that right way. Some of the CRP stuff, some sign-ups, those kind of things that have been off the table, get in and do that now.”
Johnson is hopeful that a long-term spending resolution can be passed. For now, he’s just pleased the government is up and running again. He doesn’t think the shutdown helped anyone.
“There’s an old saying that there’s not much education in the second kick of a mule, and hopefully folks realize that this shutdown really didn’t accomplish anything.”
Johnson is right. We seem to be right back where we started. Farmers should be sure and take care of business while they can, just in case the government closes once more.