Sources: USDA’s NASS, WAOB Not Essential Personnel if Gov’t Shutdown

September 25, 2013 06:03 AM
 
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via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Impact on report releases if government shuts down depends on length


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


Workers in USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) and World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) are expected to be deemed non-essential personnel so would not be working in the event that the U.S. government is shut down due to a lack of an agreement on a spending plan to keep the government operating when the new fiscal year starts Tuesday, Oct. 1.

NASS and WAOB personnel. While one source noted that it was not clear whether NASS and WAOB personnel would be deemed essential or not, the source said the “assumption is they are not going to be considered essential.” Other sources noted that instructions on services in the event of a shutdown do include NASS and WAOB operations – that they would cease work in the event of a shutdown.

Length of any government shutdown is key. Whether any government shutdown would affect the release of any USDA report depends on how long any shutdown would last, contacts advise.

For example, USDA’s Crop Production and Supply/Demand reports that are due to be released Oct. 11 would still likely come out on schedule if any government shutdown would last “only one or two days,” one source observed. “The objective survey work would only be temporarily halted under that type of scenario.” The rest of the data gathering for the Oct. report would take place through Oct. 7 and could be affected if the shutdown is prolonged.

However, sources said it was not clear how long of a shutdown would prompt a delay in releasing either report.

Food and meat inspectors are expected to be classified as essential personnel. Recall that in March, an amendment was added to the FY 2013 continuing resolution (PL 113-6) to keep meat and poultry inspectors on the job despite sequester reductions. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack warned that without additional money he would be forced to furlough the inspectors, which in turn would slow down operations at the nation’s slaughterhouses. The approved amendment shifted $55 million from other accounts at the Agriculture Department to keep the inspectors working.

Under a government shutdown scenario, Vilsack said he had the authority to designate essential employees and keep them working without pay based in part on the view that eventually government funding would be restored and USDA would then essentially be reimbursed for amounts to cover essential workers that were on the job during a shutdown.


Comments: So far, only those linked food safety/inspections are likely to be deemed essential personnel and not those preparing economic indicator data like Crop Production or the Supply/Demand report. And key on whether reports releases are affected is how long any shutdown would last.



NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.




 

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