The government shutdown has had wide-ranging effects throughout US society (just today, air traffic across the United States was delayed due to a shortage of air traffic controllers), and as academics we know how the shutdown has disrupted our funding from the NSF, NEH, and NIH, among other agencies. In this edition of the weekly gleaning, I’ll focus on the ways the shutdown has impacted agricultural production in the United States:
- The FDA’s reduction in routine food inspections has gotten a lot of press over the last few weeks (NPR interview with Michael Gafrancesco, a federal food inspector and union leader; Fortune on how the FDA is calling back furloughed food inspectors, The Guardian on how the government shutdown could affect your health).
- Delish reports on how funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (often referred to as ‘food stamps’) is not guaranteed starting in March. If the shutdown is not resolved in the next month, 38 million low-income Americans will run out of necessary food assistance. “At the moment, all those who participate in SNAP or are newly applying for its benefits will receive their money in January, and because of the shutdown, February funds will be distributed earlier in the month than usual. The early issuance will make sure everyone who needs the funding for the whole month of February gets it, as some states distribute the money at all different times of the month.”
- Even commodity traders are having difficulty getting important USDA data: “’United States government-issued agricultural reports are considered the information gold standard by traders throughout the world,’ says Sal Gilbertie, president and chief investment officer at Teucrium Trading. ‘The longer the shutdown lasts, the more the data will have to catch up when reports are finally released'” (MarketWatch). Traders are now resorting to private sources of data: “To fill the void on data, traders and farmers are relying on private crop forecasters, satellite imagery firms and brokerages offering analyses on trade and supplies. Some have been scouring Twitter for tidbits on shifting weather patterns and rumors of grain exports, but say it is difficult to replace the USDA” (Washington Post).
- Here’s a list of the activities that are ongoing and the activities they have discontinued during the shutdown.
Some non-shutdown news:
- The US has a record cheese surplus (NPR)
- A food desert becomes food oasis in Louisville (Courier Journal)
- The Laura Flanders Show (embedded below) has a conversation with leaders from various different food justice organizations about how to build sustainable and equitable food systems in urban areas.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons