USDA Releases Shutdown Plan

September 28, 2013 07:54 AM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Plan exempts meat inspectors, as expected

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

USDA's shutdown plans would exempt meat inspectors as expected, but several other personnel whose positions are funded outside regular appropriations or deemed necessary to protect life or property. The exempt include those who check imported produce for pests and Wildlife Services personnel who are supposed to protect airliners and military aircraft from bird strikes.

Link to a Q&A for USDA employees. For other details and links, see the information in the box below. Main link to USDA contingency plan. 

Around 90 percent of the 9,633 employees at the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which oversees processing of meat, poultry and egg products, would remain working during a government shutdown, because the jobs are deemed necessary to protect life, according to the agency's contingency plan. The exempt employees include both inspectors as well as support personnel, including laboratory technicians.

Uncertain is how the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program would be impacted. The Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, said USDA has no legal authority to continue providing benefits under WIC after Monday, but states may have money and legal authority to fund the assistance for a week or more. Also, contingency funds for WIC also may be available.

Regarding food stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has statutory authority to keep dispensing food stamp benefits during the new fiscal year, and federal school meal programs would continue in October. Schools are reimbursed 30 days after the end of the service month, as are child- and adult-care providers who serve USDA-subsidized meals.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said that around 4,000 of its personnel would remain on duty (link). Among them are 1,861 workers, including pest inspectors and personnel who certify products for export, who would continue working during the shutdown because their salaries are covered by trust funds or user fees; more than 1,043 Wildlife Services employees whose costs are reimbursed to USDA; and 1,075 workers who are considered necessary to protect life or property. The latter include overseas staff, employees at pest research facilities; and personnel who monitor biotechnology research.

Government Agencies Plan for Shutdown

With a government shutdown going into the likely category, subject to a last-minute compromise, the federal government is going over previous plans on how they would deal with disruptions if funding for federal agencies halts.

Agencies on Friday began posting their contingency plans online to prepare for a possible government shutdown on Tuesday, Oct. 1. If the government closes, approximately 800,000 federal civilian employees could be furloughed. Those placed on unpaid leave will receive official furlough notices on Oct. 1, if necessary.

About half of the Pentagon’s 800,000 civilian employees would continue to report to work in the event of a shutdown, while all military personnel would remain on normal duty status, according to agency contingency plans released on Friday. Personnel working through the shutdown would be paid retroactively. But Congress would have to approve paying civilians furloughed at the Defense Department and across the government. The Defense Department’s army of contractors would continue to work at least during the early days of a shutdown, assuming the contract is fully funded and there is government supervision available.

The Office of Management and Budget provides links to individual agency plans on its website (link). Also, click here to read the 2011 contingency plans that agencies prepared the last time the government nearly shut down – or an updated list of those filing contingency plans for 2013.

Check here for USDA contingency plans -- Direct links below:

  • Department of Agriculture

    • Office of the Secretary | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Agricultural Marketing Service | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Departmental Management | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Farm Service Agency | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Food Safety and Inspection Services | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • U.S. Forest Service | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • National Appeals Division | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Natural Resources Conservation Service | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Office of Budget and Program Analysis | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Office of the Chief Economist | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Office of the Chief Financial Officer | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Office of Communications | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Office of Ethics | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Office of the General Counsel | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Office of Inspector General | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Research, Education and Economics | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Risk Management Agency | PDF (September 27, 2013)

    • Rural Development | PDF (September 27, 2013)





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






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