Fresh produce industry unaffected by US government shutdown

The United States Federal government shutdown appears to have had little effect on the fresh produce industry. Last week Friday, both parties were unable to come to an agreement on federal funding, resulting in the temporary cessation of a number of government functions.

However, on Monday, suppliers and industry representatives had yet to see any effect on the fresh produce industry. "There has not been any effect on the potato industry as yet in the northern plains regions," said a spokesperson from Nokota Packers in North Dakota. 

A previous shutdown in 2013 had badly affected a potato seed trial in Washington. That program was run by the Tri-State Breeding Program with the Potato Variety Management Institute. Because it was funded by the US Department of Agriculture, the program was temporarily suspended and impacted on research that had taken up to a year to achieve. However, no such programs seem to have suffered this time.

Imports and exports keep operating
During a government shutdown, services deemed "essential" continue to operate. For those in the fresh produce industry, these include agencies like the National Weather Service, as well as Customs and Border Protection. One of the critical points is the importing and exporting of fresh produce across land borders as well as via sea and air freight.

Ports of entry continued to operate as normal

The USDA continued to operate freight and border inspections. "The USDA in New Jersey sent a memo to us on Friday advising they would continue to operate as normal," said Rick Nagelberg of Panorama Produce Sales, a mango importer based in New York. "One of the reasons is because they are self-funded per inspection. USDA Inspectors are also out there on the docks today, looking at fruit and releasing shipping containers."

Government reopens Monday afternoon
By Monday afternoon, Democrat and Republican senators had arrived at a consensus, allowing the government to resume all federal functions for the time being. "It looks like the shutdown is over and everything is back on track, so no effects to speak of," said Dante Galeazzi, of the Texas International Produce Association, after the consensus was reached.

For more information:
Rick Nagelberg
Panorama Produce Sales
Tel: +1 (914) 381-6220

Dante Galeazzi
Texas International Produce Association
Tel: +1 (956) 581-8632

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