With the threat of a government shutdown once again looming, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) faces pushback from his own party over a potential spending deal with Democrats.
One ag leader says that continued threat of a shutdown is toxic for ag businesses.
Ethan Lane, Vice President of Government Affairs with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), says he is watching the situation closely.
“To a certain extent, this is such uncharted territory to have a narrow majority, and a substantive group of people in your own party that basically aren’t willing to take yes for an answer. They find fault with any deal that’s struck,” he said. “What they really would like to see is a shutdown in some cases. They’re largely unconcerned with the economic impact to their own rural constituents in some instances that it could breed.”
Lane says the roller coaster of continued national budget instability is having a damaging effect on farm businesses.
“It’s always a strain. Just like market volatility has been a big story in the cattle industry over the last few months, political instability also is detrimental to the business environment. If you don’t know whether the government’s going to be open next week, it’s very difficult for you to plan your business and do all the things you need to do to be successful. So absolutely,” he said. “Instability. Volatility. Those are words that are always going to be toxic to a business environment, particularly a small business environment where they don’t necessarily have capital to weather long term shutdowns or massive market shocks.”
While Speaker Johnson has his work cut out for him just a few months into his new position, Lane says it would likely be the same struggle no matter who carried the title of Speaker.
“Whether that’s Speaker Johnson, newly minted in that role or whether Kevin McCarthy were still the speaker, I think the same challenges persist in navigating this environment,” he said.
On Friday, Jan. 19, funding will run out for programs under four of the 12 bills: Agriculture, Energy and Water, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development.
Programs under the other eight bills, including defense spending, are currently slated to run out of funds two weeks later, on Feb. 2.