By: Hannah Walker, Vice President of Political Affairs, FMI 

Government Affairs

On November 21, President Trump signed a stop-gap funding bill to avert a government shutdown through December 20. The last funding bill expired on November 21 and considering Congress has yet to complete work on any of its funding packages, the stopgap was necessary to avoid a shutdown. 

Appropriators, House and Senate Leaders, and Whitehouse representatives recently reached an agreement on the fiscal year 2020 funding levels. While this is certainly a step in the right direction toward completing their work on appropriations, there is still a great deal of work to do in the next month. 

Appropriators from both chambers will spend the coming weeks working out the differences in their respective spending bills in hopes of having them complete and on the President’s desk for signing before December 20. However, with the compressed time frame, and other activities on the Hill taking center stage, they still may not complete their work on all the bills including the Agriculture Appropriations bill that funds both Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infant, Children (WIC). 

If they do not complete their work by December 20, we may find ourselves facing another shutdown or stop-gap spending bill situation.

What Can You Do? 

With that in mind, we encourage members to be prepared in case of a federal shutdown. Any food retail operation that may need to renew or apply for a new SNAP license in the coming months should do so immediately. Additionally, FMI is in contact with FNS discussing plans for January SNAP distribution if we end up in a shutdown situation. 

If A Shutdown Situation Occurs

All of that being said, if we are in a shutdown situation, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will not be able to process any SNAP license applications, whether you are applying for a new one, or renewing. If you have any licenses that need renewing or issued before the end of the year, you may want to go ahead and get it done before November 21. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) are ready to accept your applications.

Additionally, FMI has spoken with FNS regarding issuance of SNAP benefits in the event of a shutdown. SNAP benefits are funded for the month of December, so we can expect normal distribution next month. They are currently looking at if and how they can issue January benefits if a shutdown goes into 2020.  

While we certainly hope and expect Congress to keep the government open, political tensions are on the forefront, and we must be prepared for a shutdown situation. 

Please contact Hannah Walker with any questions or comments.

*Updated on November 26.

  • Government Relations