All Farm Service Agency offices will reopen this week. Starting January 24th, 9,700 USDA employees will be recalled to keep offices open for two weeks for limited services. Afterwards, the offices will remain open three days a week.
Despite working, federal employees have not been paid for weeks. So the USDA has updated its “Be Prepared” website with information for the employees affected by a lapse in funding. It includes resources for furlough information, unemployment compensation benefits, letters to creditors, and frequently asked questions. That website can be found here: www.dm.usda.gov/beprepared
In addition to general information, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has been sending out tweets of updates for employees. One of the concerns raised is food safety.
Perdue says, “I know many of you have been wondering during this shutdown, ‘What about my food, is it safe?’ I’m happy to tell all Americans today because of our hardworking inspectors across America, your chicken, your pork, your beef, all that protein that they’re inspecting is safe, they’ve been on the job, they’re on the job and to them, I want to say thank you.”
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service is at work, despite unpaid employees, and has been updating its Twitter with notices of recalls.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture is still fully at work, the government shutdown only furloughs federal employees.