Government shutdown felt in Clay County

Thursday, January 3, 2019
With the lights off and the doors locked, the Clay County USDA FSA office in Spencer is emblazoned with notes explaining the office will reopen after the federal government shutdown ends. All county USDA FSA offices have been closed since Dec. 28.
Photo by Joseph Hopper

Despite the distance between our nation’s capital and Iowa, the partial federal government shutdown is being felt in northwest Iowa. The shutdown is currently affecting nine federal departments — Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation and the Treasury.

While some services in Spencer, such as the Social Security Office and UDMO have been unaffected by the shutdown, the Clay County USDA Farm Service Agency office and its employees have not been as lucky. All USDA county FSA offices have been shuttered as of Dec. 28, with 61 percent of USDA employees currently exempted from the shutdown.

“We are not in the office at this time, we are in furlough due to the lack of federal government funding,” the Clay County USDA FSA’s voicemail states.

“There may be a lapse in funding for the federal government, but that will not relieve USDA of its responsibilities for safeguarding life and property through the critical services we provide,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “... During a shutdown, we will leverage our existing resources as best we can to continue to provide the top notch service people expect.”

In addition, the USDA has also closed recreation sites across the U.S. National Forest System, new timber sales, most forest fuels reduction activities in and around communities, NASS statistics and “other economic and statistical reports and projections.”

“We’re missing the second round of the tariff payments,” said Patrick White, AA Commodities and Investments owner. “They’re not going to be able to get out their January 11 crop report, that’ll affect things. The USDA won’t be able to give an update on yield, they won’t give an update on carryout, they’re just gonna skip over and hope it’s open in February.

He continued, “The big thing is just the reporting with Chinese sales. If we don’t know what they’re buying and it can’t be confirmed by the U.S. government, it’s really just shady on what’s actually going to happen. They could come out here and completely buy us out and we wouldn’t know it, because the USDA can’t confirm it. ... It (the market) doesn’t go up a whole lot, doesn’t go down a whole lot, we’re all just sitting here. Hopefully we can get something done here. (It’s) $5 billion for the wall, that’s why we’re held up. But it’s not a money thing, it’s a political thing.”

The shutdown began on Dec. 22 after the Senate adjourned, unable to agree on spending. Funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall has become the key issue since approximately one fourth of the government was forced to close. U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, issued a statement on the government stalemate, supporting the president’s request for the wall’s funding.

“We shouldn’t have to choose between keeping the government open and protecting our national borders,” Grassley said. “There’s no question that dangerous individuals, from drug traffickers to violent criminals, attempt to cross the border illegally every day. I support President Trump’s request for $5 billion to fund border security. Additional wall on specific parts of the border like we’ve already seen in Yuma, El Paso and San Diego would go a long way in stopping those dangerous individuals from entering the country.

He continued, “... I hope Democrats come to the table and work with congressional Republicans and President Trump to arrive at a reasonable resolution. There’s no reason we can’t keep the government open and protect our nation’s borders. In the meantime, Iowans should know that most of the federal government remains open. The military continues to defend our national security. The postal service continues to function. ... My office will work with the administration to determine how the partial shutdown might affect Iowans, and I’ll keep working with my colleagues to come to a resolution as soon as possible.”

In county government, only the county engineer’s office expected to experience any impact from the continued closure.

“If we were in a different time of the year it might be more impactful,” Clay County Engineer Bill Rabenberg said. “We’ve got some future federal projects but they’re involved in the swap, so I’m not sure how a shutdown would affect those. There’s supposed to be a trade, one to one, dollar for dollar to the state using the state funding. It might affect more of the state than us. We’re working with FEMA from the spring flood event. Those folks will be temporarily on furlough until the government resumes, so we might have some delays in funding reimbursement.”

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  • This is the trump shutdown, he even bragged about it. And he was for a bill before he wasn't after the true levers of power (Ann Coulter, Laura Ingram, Rush Limbaugh) told trump what to do via tv during trump's 1/2 day of 'executive time' every day. And that's not counting on the bill that trump flipped on last spring that covered addressing DACA that had 25 billion for Homeland Security.

    So much for the art of the deal. What a joke.

    Always remember and never forget...using your 'best' judgement, believing all the lies, you voted for this.

    How's that 401k, your middle class tax cuts, and paycheck increases working for ya? Rolling in clover yet?

    And Chuck best not be spinning so much, he'll get dizzy.

    The majority of illegal drugs come through the ports of entry. 40% of people here illegally came in legally and overstayed their visas. A wall won't stop that.

    -- Posted by helped_myself on Fri, Jan 4, 2019, at 8:14 AM
  • “We’re missing the second round of the tariff payments,” said Patrick White, AA Commodities and Investments owner"...funny. While the rest of us struggle in our manufacturing environments the ag industry's special treatment is on hold during the shutdown. Priceless!

    -- Posted by sherriwebs on Fri, Jan 4, 2019, at 10:40 AM
  • More times than not those USDA crop reports have smothered grain or livestock price rally. Like last month when 6 billion bushels of Chinese corn was magically added to the world corn balance sheet. All this over $5 billion, the amount to government goes thru in just 10-12 hours.

    -- Posted by clayfarmer on Fri, Jan 4, 2019, at 12:22 PM
  • Just a reminder: Chuck Schumer and even Hillary voted Yea for the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Which passed by the way. I wonder what's changed?

    -- Posted by clayfarmer on Fri, Jan 4, 2019, at 12:52 PM
  • You forgot Obama. All these Dem's used to be all over the immigration problem and better border security. All of it on record.

    Guessing the Dem's voter base shrunk and instead of caring about the actual American's, they decided holding an office with all its "fringe benefits" is more important. Or they are all afflicted with Alzheimer's. Flip a coin I suppose. LOL!

    -- Posted by Dick Butkus on Fri, Jan 4, 2019, at 8:52 PM


    -Mick Mulvaney:"They voted for (a border wall) in 2006. Then-Senator Obama voted for it. Sen. Schumer voted for it. Sen. Clinton voted for it."

    Fact-check: Did top Democrats vote for a border wall in 2006?

    -White House budget director Mick Mulvaney discusses the budget deadline with "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace.

    -White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said he doesn’t understand Democratic opposition to funding the border wall because top Democrats voted for it just over 10 years ago.

    -During an April 23 segment on Fox News Sunday, Mulvaney talked down concerns about a government shutdown, but scolded Democrats for obstructing action on Trump’s border wall. Mulvaney pointed to the voting record of top Democrats in 2006 to explain his confusion.

    The Secure Fence Act of 2006

    -The Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, authorized about 700 miles of fencing along certain stretches of land between the border of the United States and Mexico.

    -The act also authorized the use of more vehicle barriers, checkpoints and lighting to curb illegal immigration, and the use of advanced technology such as satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles.

    -At the time the act was being considered, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer were all members of the Senate. (Schumer of New York is now the Senate minority leader.)

    -Obama, Clinton, Schumer and 23 other Democratic senators voted in favor of the act when it passed in the Senate by a vote of 80 to 19.

    -Originally, the act called on the Department of Homeland Security to install at least two layers of reinforced fencing along some stretches of the border. That was amended later, however, through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008, which got rid of the double-layer requirement.

    -Currently, 702 miles of fencing separates the United States from Mexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

    Our ruling

    -Mulvaney said that Obama, Schumer and Clinton voted for a border wall in 2006.

    -They did vote for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized building a fence along about 700 miles of the border between the United States and Mexico.

    -Still, the fence they voted for is not as substantial as the wall Trump is proposing. Trump himself called the 2006 fence a "nothing wall."

    -Mulvaney’s statement is partially accurate, but ignores important context. We rate it Half True.

    -- Posted by Judith Olson on Sat, Jan 5, 2019, at 6:42 AM
  • this is the trump shutdown. playing politics with people's paychecks. Paying them eventually (I hope) for not working, anathema to conservatives, I thought.

    56% to 37% say trump should compromise on the wall.

    62% to 34% oppose shutting down the gov't over a wall.

    51% to 37% blame trump/gop over the Democrats on shutdown.

    Notice the mid 30% are in the minority, always. These are hard core trumpsters that have proven to sacrifice their own livelihoods and families for trump. May they get tattoos on their foreheads and gravestones etched with the trump name to remind all how important education is and who to blame for the mess the Democrats will have to clean up....once again....just as they did after GHWB and W.

    -- Posted by helped_myself on Sat, Jan 5, 2019, at 3:05 PM
  • Clean up what? Job growth and rising labor participation rate? You might be right.

    -- Posted by clayfarmer on Sat, Jan 5, 2019, at 8:47 PM

    Oct 30, 2018

    Chuck Jones, Senior Contributor

    Two Charts Show Trump's Job Gains Are Just A Continuation From Obama's Presidency

    -- Posted by Judith Olson on Sat, Jan 5, 2019, at 10:30 PM
  • Facts, even from conservative sources, will not change the minds of those who choose to remain ignorant of them.

    -- Posted by helped_myself on Sun, Jan 6, 2019, at 9:48 AM
  • -- Posted by clayfarmer on Sun, Jan 6, 2019, at 11:28 AM
  • This world needs to listen to John Lennon's Imagine

    -- Posted by govikes on Sun, Jan 6, 2019, at 7:35 PM
  • trump now has the debt at nearly $22 trillion up $2 trillion in less than 2 years. So much for trickle down economics that has failed every time the conservatives try it (Reagan - failed, GHWF - failed, GWB - failed, trump - failed BIGLY).

    Next up...cut YOUR Social Security, YOUR Medicare, Your Medicaid, YOUR education, YOUR disaster relief (which increase yearly with climate change), YOUR infrastructure...all in the goal of keeping the masses too stupid, sick and without resources to fight back.

    The debt added in Democratic administrations benefited those with the least and stabilized a crumbling global economy. No comparison on which is most moral and in the interest of the country to 'promote the general welfare...' not promote the rich.

    -- Posted by helped_myself on Mon, Jan 7, 2019, at 8:24 AM
  • Well only if you put the big banks bailed out in the "little people" category . Must be using Jon Corzine's math skills. You might have to google that Dem. ;)

    -- Posted by clayfarmer on Mon, Jan 7, 2019, at 12:27 PM
  • Macro economics...learn about it or the Great Depression.

    I would have liked more help going directly to people in need but the logistics/expense of distribution, the fact it would be direct welfare with no assurance that the $ would be used as needed and urgency of the situation dictated what needed to be done.

    Also, what good what it have done if there were no more financial industry at the end? Direct pay to people would only be a temporary resolution for as long as the $ lasted.

    -- Posted by helped_myself on Tue, Jan 8, 2019, at 7:59 AM
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