How Government Shutdown Affects Farmers

Iowa Farm Scene

Farm bill expired Oct. 1, same day government shut down.

Published on: October 2, 2013

The Farm Bill expired Oct. 1, same day the federal government shut down. Congress can't agree on a budget. A main point of contention is funding for the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. How is this federal government shutdown affecting Iowa farmers so far? What do they have to say?

Merlin Komarek of Protivin in northeast Iowa says: "There are times I'd like to boot each Congressman out of office and the president too. If anyone else performed their job so poorly, they would not be employed. The politicians in Washington, D.C. are too bull-headed to compromise on a farm bill. Then they shut the government down. The first people to not get paid are our military personnel, who are doing a heck of a lot more good for our country than our Congress is, and all the way up to and including our president."

BUSY HARVEST: At harvest this fall farmers are aggravated by failure of Congress to pass a new farm bill. Expiration of 2008 farm bill Oct. 1 is unlikely to prompt lawmakers to pass a new farm bill soon. Popular programs (food stamps, program payments, crop insurance) remain in place and wont stop functioning.
BUSY HARVEST: At harvest this fall farmers are aggravated by failure of Congress to pass a new farm bill. Expiration of 2008 farm bill Oct. 1 is unlikely to prompt lawmakers to pass a new farm bill soon. Popular programs (food stamps, program payments, crop insurance) remain in place and won't stop functioning.

Farmer sees a remedy to inaction of Congress—don't pay them!

Komarek adds, "There is one easy remedy to solve this: Congress and the president are the ones who should not get paid during a shutdown. Also, they need to buy their own health insurance like everyone else, and if they want to have 'Cadillac' coverage, it's their expense to be covered by money from their own pockets!

"When Congress considers raising its own salaries," he says, "the public should vote on it. When Congress votes themselves a pay raise, like they do periodically, that's the dumbest thing I ever heard of. When I'm working and I think I deserve a raise, I can't just say 'pay me more.' We have a do nothing Congress."

Federal shutdown is affecting Iowa farmers in several ways

Talking with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today I asked him how the shutdown and slowdown of USDA agencies and functions is affecting the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Northey explained that IDALS employees who work in his department's Soil Conservation Division out in the state actually work in offices of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, which has an office in each county. It's a federal-state partnership between NRCS and the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Iowa. Each county is a SWCD.