Carper: Delaware Farmers Are Collateral Damage in Unnecessary Government Shutdown

LEWES, Del. – Today, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), met with owner of Magee Farms, Ellen Magee, and her son Chris Magee, to discuss the impacts the government shutdown continues to have on Delaware farmers. Specifically, the shutdown has hindered farmers in Delaware, including the Magees, from receiving vital farm subsidies distributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The ongoing government shutdown, which will become the longest shutdown in our nation’s history tomorrow, was entirely avoidable. Sadly, 21 days in, this shutdown continues to harm Americans who are working not knowing if or when they’ll get paid and unable to access resources for their businesses through no fault of their own,” said Senator Carper. “Included in that collateral damage are our farmers who help drive our economy and feed our communities. Our farmers have already been hit hard by the President’s senseless trade wars, and they certainly don’t need an unnecessary government shutdown on top of it that further hinders their ability to operate their business. The President needs to recognize the real costs of this shutdown to Delaware’s families, businesses and economy. He should immediately re-open the government so the Department of Agriculture and other impacted agencies can get back to work helping our farmers and rural communities.”

Carper continued, “It’s estimated by President Trump’s own chief economist that this shutdown could cost our country $1.2 billion a week. It’s irresponsible for the President to allow this to continue. Let’s open up the government, put people back to work, and have a real discussion about smart ways to improve border security.”

On Thursday, Senator Carper joined 32 Democratic Senators in writing to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to urge them to direct federal agencies to work with contractors to provide back pay to compensate low- and middle-income contractor employees for the wages they have lost during the shutdown. Last week, Senator Carper joined Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) to introduce the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019, a bill that requires furloughed federal employees to be compensated for lost wages on the earliest date possible at the conclusion of the government shutdown. It passed the Senate by voice vote yesterday.

This historically long government shutdown is already impacting USDA customers across the country. The effects include:

  • The closure of thousands of Farm Service Agency county offices prevents farmers from signing up for Farm Bill programs, applying for loans, and getting necessary information for their farming operations.
  • Tariff relief payments are delayed, which were intended to compensate producers for losses caused by retaliatory tariffs.
  • The implementation of the significant improvements for dairy farmers included in the Farm Bill is on hold, even though the improvements start at the beginning of 2019.
  • Delayed agricultural production reports add more uncertainty to the markets and make it even more difficult for farmers to make planning decisions for the new year.
  • Rural communities cannot apply for USDA loans and grants for affordable housing, clean water infrastructure, high-speed internet, and small business activities. 
  • Thousands of low- and moderate-income homebuyers who have applied for mortgages guaranteed or made directly by USDA Rural Housing Service will not receive the financing they need. 
  • A variety of important Forest Service activities are on hold, hurting rural forested communities.
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps over 38 million people feed their families, is only guaranteed through February.
  • Food banks are no longer receiving funds to distribute and store food at the local level and tribes will soon lack federal administrative funds for food assistance.
  • Thousands of USDA employees are not being paid, hindering them in paying their bills.