As the federal government shutdown continues, farmers in the state are increasingly concerned that gridlock in Washington, D.C. could negatively impact Arkansas products.
Growers and producers in the state are currently partnering with federal researchers on a variety of agricultural studies.
Travis Justice is a senior economist with the Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation. He says farmers in state also rely heavily on data from the USDA, information that has not been updated since the shutdown.
“Commodities are still trading and people are still selling their crops, but we have a lack of official price reporting going on. There is also reduced access to historical data and there will ultimately be gaps in information as we monitor prices,” said Justice. “As people make buying and selling decisions, they usually rely on that market report to help guide their decision-making process.”
Justice says federal conservation programs that have helped farmers and landowners for decades are now in jeopardy because personnel have been furloughed due to the shutdown. He admits important commodities in the state find their way into the export market and that could change if Congress does not act soon.
“Arkansas agriculture relies heavily on our ability to export products overseas. Roughly a third in value of all our farm production is exported,” Justice said. “Tied into the budget dilemma in Washington is USDA’s support for our export market development across the globe.”
Justice says the shutdown has interrupted the state’s ability to negotiate with trading partners, monitor export trade, and fund successful programs that have improved Arkansas’s efforts to sell state-made products overseas.