Irrigation industry braces for impact as government shutdown looms

Lawmakers in Washington have failed to come to a resolution to fund the government with little time to spare.

The United States federal government will shut down Oct. 1 with several potential impacts on the irrigation industry unless House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, can navigate the choppy House water to appease resistant members of his own party and pass a spending bill that will keep the government open.  

That outcome is unlikely, according to Nathan Bowen, Irrigation Association vice president of advocacy and public affairs. 

“While there is still a chance that Congress could reach an agreement on a short-term extension to prevent a government shutdown, it is increasingly likely a shutdown could begin this weekend,” he says.  

For the irrigation industry, Bowen says the implications of a shutdown range from everyday disruptions to potential bureaucratic delays to vital United States Department of Agriculture programs. 

“We are still learning the specifics of federal agency shutdown plans, but it’s important for businesses in our industry to be prepared for possible impacts to their operations — from potential disruptions with some farm and conservation programs, delays in payments from federal customers to limited access to federal facilities and even websites. The Irrigation Association is committed to keeping our members informed about the evolving situation and will provide updates as the situation develops.” 

In the past, government shutdowns have lasted anywhere between a few days to more than a month. The most recent government shutdown occurred from Dec. 22, 2018, to Jan. 25, 2019. 

According to The New York Times, Speaker McCarthy was working with House Republicans Sept. 20 to pass a stopgap funding measure to keep federal agencies open through October and was optimistic about its potential. That optimism was tamped down the next day when right-wing House Republicans bucked their party’s leadership to block a military funding bill from coming to the floor for debate. 

“This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down,” McCarthy told The Times. “It doesn’t work.” 

Read more about government.

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