USDA and FDA Continue to Call Back Workers Amid Partial Shutdown
As previously reported on this blog, without either a fiscal year 2019 appropriation or a Continuing Resolution, a partial government shutdown, which began on December 22, 2018, has continued to impact both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This blog has also reported that as of January 15, FDA resumed inspections of food facilities that produce high risk foods, such as cheeses, other dairy products, seafood, produce, and infant formula, which had been stopped as a result of the federal government shutdown.
On January 20, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a series of tweets that, as part of the efforts to conduct and support domestic food surveillance inspections of high risk products, a total of 100 investigators and 35 supervisors were called back and that “more staff could be on the way depending on needs.” In addition, FDA’s Office of Import and Enforcement Operations, which covers International Mail Facilities and ports of entry, has about 450 FDA staff in the field supporting critical operations, Gottlieb said.
On January 16, USDA announced that 2,500 workers were being called back to reopen about half of its Farm Service Agency (FSA) to provide limited services for farmers and ranchers. Those workers temporarily returned to work on January 17, 18 and 22 to help farmers with existing loans and tax documents. It has also been reported that about 90 percent of USDA’s 9,500 Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) employees remain on the job but are working without pay.