Government shutdown impacts agriculture in Valley

FRESNO,Calif. (KFSN) -- The government shutdown is impacting the valley's top industry - agriculture - in several ways.

Winter is a time when many local growers are making crop decisions for the new season.

They're also applying for federal loans and grant money but that process is on hold right now.

At this point, day-to-day operations and inspections in the valley citrus industry have not been impacted by the government shutdown.

But one of the offices that has been closed is the USDA Farm Service Agency in northwest Fresno.

The mostly empty parking lot is normally full of cars with local growers coming in to apply for federal money through the FSA.

"Which is the service within USDA that provides help with crop insurance and other agricultural programs that farmers are in including the dairies, including the livestock industry," says Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League.

Employees at the USDA Agricultural Sciences Center in Parlier have been furloughed. Research is conducted here on over 100 acres of land.

Cunha says many growers rely on federal monies to put in a crop. Upcoming deadlines for some programs have already been delayed due to the shutdown.

"The other part is the Natural Resource Conservation Service where many of the resource projects, grants that are available for farmers, for wildlife preservation, for planting," says Cunha.

Cunha adds that some local food processors are worried about produce coming in from other countries.

"You don't even know where it's at the port and who's inspected it or not. Because if there's nobody to inspect the container of food with the food safety people then you've got a problem," he says.

The US Department of Agriculture says essential food safety inspectors for beef, poultry and eggs remain on the job.
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