Skip to Content

The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Potential government shutdown looms across the ag industry

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

On March 3, lawmakers released the first of two spending packages to set funding levels for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2024. 

Congress agreed to the fourth stopgap bill of the fiscal year and now lawmakers have until March 8 to approve the “minibus” to avoid a partial government shutdown where the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation funding expire.

Many government agencies are in line to absorb cuts, but the much-delayed package includes funding for the departments of Agriculture, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, Interior, Commerce and Justice, as well as the EPA and a few other agencies.

Congress will then have to turn their attention to funding the rest of the government by the March 22 deadline to secure funding in a second package which is expected to include spending for the Defense Department, Homeland Security, State Department and Health and Human Services.

Lawmakers must pass all 12 appropriations bills before April 30 to avoid one percent cuts across the board.

Ag leaders speak out

According to a press release on March 4, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) called on lawmakers to pass the minibus appropriations package announced by Congressional leadership on March 3. 

The bill prevents a disastrous government shutdown and provides support for several key cattle industry priorities.

“While this legislation is not perfect, it advances a number of priorities important to cattle producers, including critical investments in electronic animal identification tags for producers and strength oversight of lab-grown protein,” says NCBA President and Wyoming Rancher Mark Eisele. 

“Further, a government shutdown would unnecessarily harm farmers and ranchers by restricting their access to federal personnel, essential market information and delaying access to critical disaster assistance programs,” he adds. “We urge Congress to avoid a shutdown by passing this important legislation.”

During the Senate Ag Committee’s Oversight Hearing on Feb. 28, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) asked Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack what consequences a possible government shutdown would have on USDA and the U.S. ag industry, notes a Brownfield Ag News article released the same day.

Vilsack notes consequences may include producers being unable to secure a loan, receive agriculture risk coverage and price loss coverage payments, participate in a disaster assistance program and/or sign a conservation contract. Additionally, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients may not be able to receive SNAP resources.

Vilsack further notes researchers might lose millions of dollars of work with a lab shut down and the U.S. Forest Service would not be able to let people enjoy resources.  

Vilsack emphasizes when Congress can’t fund the government, there are huge consequences. 

“This is the fourth time we’ve had to spend staff time planning for a shutdown,” he says. “Interestingly enough, timing of the shutdown depends on who gets characterized and in what category in terms of the workforce. It is an extraordinary waste of time.”

During the hearing, Warnock reminds the committee a lapse in funding would harm farmers, their families and women and children relying on essential services and programs.

The next step

On March 6, the House of Representatives passed a package of six spending bills, using a fast-track process, known as suspending the rules which required a higher two-thirds majority to pass, with a vote of 339 to 85, sending legislation to the Senate days ahead of the partial government shutdown deadline, according to USA Today.

The House of Representatives passed the $460 billion government funding deal needed to fund the government on a long-term basis with 207 Democrats and 132 Republicans throwing their support behind the measure.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is also expected to pass and later head to President Biden’s desk for his signature by the end of this week.

Although the final product was passed with a bipartisan compromise, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers claimed their own victories from the spending package.

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

  • Posted in Government
  • Comments Off on Potential government shutdown looms across the ag industry
Back to top