US President Donald Trump announced that a deal had been reached on Friday to reopen the government, at least, through February 15.
During that time, a bipartisan committee with members from the US House of Representatives and Senate are expected to work on a new security package, he said during his statement. The period is an "opportunity" for members of both parties to work together for the country.
Funding for a proposed wall on the US-Mexico border was a sticking point during the shutdown, and the requested $5.7bn was not included in Friday’s agreement.
In the announcement, the president also called for investments in new technology at ports of entry to the US to allow for “quicker and safer commerce.”
“These critical investments will improve and facilitate legal trade and travel through our lawful ports of entry,” he added.
“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” said Trump. “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15, again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”
The partial shutdown of the government started in December as funding lapsed for several departments within the federal system. This included the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In total about 800,000 federal employees were affected by the shutdown and about 380,000 were furloughed from work. However, President Donald Trump had signed legislation previously to guarantee backpay for employees.
The news of the temporary opening follows about 9,700 employees with the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) being recalled to work earlier in the week.
On Tuesday [January 22], Sonny Perdue, US secretary of agriculture, announced that all FSA offices would be opening during the shutdown to provide a select set of services. That reopening started Thursday [January 24].
He also set February 14 as the deadline for feed crop and agricultural producers to apply for the Market Facilitation Program. The system was established to provide financial support to producers of select products, including corn, soybeans, sorghum and wheat in the face of retaliatory tariffs.
The shutdown also had suspended reports from the National Agricultural Statistics Service and Office of the Chief Economist, said the USDA. Those publications include reports on crop production, winter planting and the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE).
Although January reports were not delivered, the reopening of federal offices should ensure the release of the next WASDE report.
US feed industry, USDA respond
Members of the US feed and agricultural community said they welcomed the announcement.
The reopening is “welcome news,” said Perdue.
The department is preparing for a “smooth reestablishment” of USDA functions and activities, he said. The USDA also will be moving forward with its efforts to provide backpay to employees.
The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) also hailed the end of the shutdown.
The feed industry relies on federal workers to conduct inspections at manufacturing sites, provide guidance, review and approve new ingredients and provide input on trade agreements, the association told us.
The organization said it is hopeful that the administration and Congress will be able to find a compromise to allowed the federal agencies to reopen permanently.