U.S. Grains Council Open for Business, But Uncertainty Has Consequences
U.S. Grains Council offices in the U.S. and around the world are open for business despite the government shutdown and the expiration of the farm bill. But the Council says it can't sustain current operations indefinitely without reauthorization of the farm bill and a resolution of the fiscal year 2014 federal budget impasse. Through careful husbandry of resources - the Council says it can continue through at least the end of the year and Council staff is working to keep current initiatives in place as best they can. Major new commitments - however - are being deferred until the long-term funding situation clarifies. Essentially - it's an unpredictable situation. USDA's major export promotion programs - the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program are caught in what the Grains Council calls the double bind of an expired farm bill and no budget agreement. Program authorizations lapsed with the farm bill, no new funding for fiscal year 2014 has been appropriated and most Foreign Agricultural Service offices are closed because of the shutdown.
The Grains Council notes partial federal shutdowns have occurred 18 times since 1976 and ranged from one to 21 days. But the Council says this shutdown is a matter of great urgency for all involved. Agriculture is one of America's trade champions and export promotion programs are proven, successful programs that open, expand and defend foreign markets for U.S. producers. If the farm bill and budget issues aren't resolved in a timely manner - the Grains Council says significant damage will be done to important national objectives. According to the Council - delay costs sales. With a good crop coming on that needs to be marketed - the sooner MAP and FMD are restored - the better.
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