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Maloney Votes to Re-Open USDA, Other Departments, Warns of Local Impacts to Farmers Amid Shutdown

Jan 10, 2019
Press Release
Middletown USDA Office Closed, Farmers Unable to Apply for New Crop Insurance, Other Programs

Implementation of Best-Ever Farm Bill for the Hudson Valley Stalled Due to Shutdown

WASHINGTON – Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) voted today to fund the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Housing and Urban Development while the agencies struggle to provide key services during the partial government shutdown. Rep. Maloney warned that failure to re-open USDA and FDA could prevent local farmers from accessing key programs. Bills to re-open DOT and USDA were passed individually and mirror legislation which was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate in December.

“We just got some great news for farmers with the 2018 Farm Bill, but it doesn’t do a lick of good if you don’t fund the programs and have people working at offices like the one in Middletown,” said Rep. Maloney. “The Senate needs to take this funding bill back up and pass it again so we can make sure our farmers can get new crop insurance, apply for the improved dairy program, and make sure SNAP recipients get their benefits and that funding is available to New York to improve our transit systems and bridges. ”

Rep. Maloney fought to ensure the 2018 Farm Bill was tailor-made for farmers in the Hudson Valley. He outlined local wins in a press conference last month in New Hampton. Although the new Farm Bill provided much-needed reforms to a litany of important programs, funding for the USDA and FDA lapsed on December 21st. Without that funding, new programs cannot be implemented and the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office is closed.

Additional concerning effects of the shutdown include:

The best-ever Farm Bill for the Hudson Valley won’t be implemented until after the shutdown.

  • Struggling dairy operations across New York can’t access the improved Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.
  • Provisions for beginning farmers and ranchers can’t go into effect.
  • Sign-up for 2019 crop year safety net programs will be delayed into the planting season.

USDA’s Risk Management Agency offices and Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices, including the Facility in Middletown, are shut down.

  • Farmers can’t sign up for new crop insurance products to benefit a range of smaller crops as well as dairy operations.
  • Farmers can’t continue discussions with their lenders regarding direct or guaranteed operating loans for 2019, which hurts their ability to plan for the coming year.

USDA’s Rural Development Program Funding is on hold.

  • Programs cannot proceed to address drinking water needs or sewage systems upgrades in rural communities, many of which have degraded infrastructure in need of repair. 
  •  Loans and grants for Community Facility & Distance Learning and Telemedicine programs cannot be allocated, yet another blow to small towns trying to provide healthcare and senior and child care for their residents, or education and training opportunities to attract businesses. 

SNAP recipients are guaranteed benefits – but only through February.

  • USDA used a funding cushion to pre-load February benefits onto recipients’ cards, but if action isn’t taken before the end of February, benefits for March could lapse.
  • Nearly 20,000 households in the Hudson Valley rely on the SNAP program.                                    

The Food and Drug Administration is not conducting food safety inspections.

  • Most food safety inspections have stopped altogether and 41% of staff are furloughed.
  • FDA is not currently able to conduct food inspections for common issues like salmonella in breakfast cereal, E. coli in romaine lettuce, or listeria in ice cream.
  •  Companies can still provide internal audits and make recall announcements through FDA.
  • Drug approval is paid through user fees, so those programs are continuing to function normally.

The Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration can’t provide funding to states for new projects.

  • Normally, federal money for highway projects becomes available when a new fiscal year begins, but the agencies were running on a continuing resolution, and that funding ran out on Dec. 21.
  • Only a quarter of the $44 billion for highway projects and $11 billion in federal transit programs was paid at the beginning of the fiscal year.
  • New York State gets about 49% of its highway and bridge funding from USDOT.