The Shutdown Could Hurt Farmers Trump Promised To Help

Aid to farmers, which was necessary following the start of 'trade wars' between the U.S. and China, could be compromised because of the shutdown.

A line of cows in a barn on a farm.
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Aid to farmers, which was necessary following the start of 'trade wars' between the U.S. and China, could be compromised because of the shutdown.

Payments that were intended to help farmers after a trade war began between the United States and China, which was instigated in part by President Donald Trump’s insistence to levy tariffs against Beijing, could be jeopardized due to the ongoing government shutdown affecting federal agencies.

The United States Department of Agriculture had been set to pass on a second round of direct payments to farmers hit hard by the effects of the trade war. Some checks will still go out to a number of farmers, but others, such as those who haven’t certified production yet, aren’t likely to get aid until the shutdown is resolved.

Farm loans, assistance programs, and other help for America’s growers are also slated to be put on hold sometime next week, according to reporting from the Associated Press. Until the impasse of the government shutdown is resolved, those programs won’t be reopened.

Farm-related programs could also be affected if the funding crisis continues for many more weeks. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is technically part of the farm bill that was just passed by Congress and signed into law by Trump. While there’s enough current funding for the program to last into the month of January, the fund will run dry if the shutdown goes beyond the next month.

School lunch programs are also affected by the shutdown. Federal aid to those programs could last until February.

Most government shutdowns, rare in their own rights, don’t last very long — one or two weeks, at most — but as of right now, there’s no end in sight for when this current funding crisis may commence or how a deal could be struck between Congress and the president on the issue of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. According to reporting from the New York Times, some are speculating that this shutdown could rival the 1995-96 shutdown, which lasted almost a month.

Trump previously said he won’t agree to any continuing resolution to fund the government unless it also includes $5 billion in funding for a border wall to stop unwanted immigration. The Senate was unable to pass a bill with those conditions attached, and if the funding crisis lasts into the first week of January, it’s unlikely that the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives will acquiesce to Trump’s demands either.

Americans primarily place the blame for the shutdown on Trump’s shoulders, according to reporting and polling from Reuters. Forty-seven percent of Americans said the president was at fault for the crisis, while 38 percent said they thought Democrats were to blame. Only 25 percent said that shutting the government down in order to get border wall funding was an inappropriate way to go about it.