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Front facade of the Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C. iStock/Getty Images Plus/qingwa

USDA opens FSA offices during shutdown

Legislative Watch: FSA offices reopen; Government to reopen until Feb. 15; Dems name House ag members; USDA nominations start over; EU not including ag in talks.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that beginning yesterday all Farm Service Agency offices would be open to provide additional services. FSA offices from Jan. 28-Feb. 1 and Feb. 4-8 will be open Monday through Friday. Beginning Feb. 11, the offices will be open Tuesday through Thursday as long as the government shutdown lasts.

The FSA offices will be able to work on additional services including Market Facilitation Program, Marketing Assistance Loans, release of collateral warehouse receipts, direct and guaranteed farm operating loans and emergency loans, service existing Conservation Reserve Program contracts, sugar price support loans, Dairy Margin Protection Program, Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage, Livestock Forage Disaster, Emergency Assistance Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish Program, Livestock Indemnity Program, Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, Tree Assistance Program and remaining Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program payments for applications already processed.

The offices will not work on new CRP contracts, new Direct and Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loans, Farm Storage Facility Loan Program, new or in-process Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program applications, Emergency Conservation Program, Emergency Forest Rehabilitation Program, Biomass Crop Assistance Program and Grassroots Source Water Protection Program.

Government to reopen until Feb. 15
President Trump announced he would support legislation to reopen the federal government for three weeks. During that time the administration and Congress will try to reach an agreement for a long-term solution. The Senate and House are expected to pass the bill as early as today.

Earlier this week the House and Senate considered various plans to end the government shutdown that has gone on over a month. 

The Senate considered a proposal by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and a proposal by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). McConnell's offer would reopen the federal government and include President Trump’s proposal of providing $5.7 billion for the border wall, additional border patrol agents and immigration judges. It also provides for a temporary fix for DACA by extending legal protections for three years to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The Schumer proposal would reopen the government until Feb. 8 in effort to find a compromise. Neither bill received the necessary 60 votes to pass.

The House passed a bill that would repay furloughed federal workers and fund various departments including USDA for the remainder of the fiscal year. House Democratic leaders are expected to put together a $5.2 billion plus border security proposal, but it will not include funds for Trump’s border wall. 

Dems name House ag committee members
The Democrats will have 26 members on the House Agriculture including 13 new members (*). The members in order of seniority are Collin Peterson (MN), David Scott (GA), Jim Costa (CA), Marcia Fudge (OH), Jim McGovern (MA), Filemon Vela, (TX), Stacey Plaskett (US VI), Alma Adams (NC), Abigail Spanberger (VA)*, Jahana Hayes (CT)*, Antonio Delgado (NY)*, T.J. Cox (CA)*, Angie Craig (MN)*, Anthony Brindisi (NY)*, Jeff Van Drew (NJ)*, Josh Harder (CA)*, Kim Shrier (WA)*, Chellie Pingree (ME)*, Cheri Bustos (IL), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY), Salud Carbajal (CA)*, Al Lawson Jr. (FL), Tom O’Halleran (AZ), Jimmy Panetta (CA), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ)* and Cindy Axne (IA)*.

Collin Peterson will serve as chairman. Subcommittee chairmen are expected to be announced later this month.

White House resends USDA nominations to Congress
The White House has resubmitted the nominations of Mindy Brashears for undersecretary of Agriculture for Food Safety, Scott Hutchins for undersecretary of Agriculture for Research, Education and Economics, and Naomi Earp for assistant secretary of Agriculture for Civil Rights.

The Senate did not confirm the three nominees last year and thus their nominations will now have to be reconsidered by the 116th Congress.

EU negotiating principles do not include ag
The European Union released its negotiating principles for trade talks with the United States. The EU want the talks to focus on removal of tariffs on industrial goods, excluding agriculture. The administration has said agriculture must be a part of any trade negotiations with the EU.

Source: P. Scott Shearer, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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