December 6, 2023

The federal authorities is simply days away from a shutdown slated to start on Oct. 1 at 12:01 a.m., except Congress passes a funding plan that President Biden indicators into regulation.

Fueled by far-right Republican calls for for deep cuts in spending, this looming shutdown may have disastrous penalties and has left many residents questioning how precisely it’ll have an effect on them. 

Whereas sure federal advantages, comparable to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Safety received’t be impacted since they’re funded via separate processes, a shutdown would have an effect on a variety of different advantages—and laws.

For rural communities, the results of a shutdown will probably be felt much more acutely. Many federal workers stay in rural areas, and these employees stand to be furloughed with out pay till a shutdown ends, hurting rural communities and not less than quickly depriving native economies of earnings. 

Rural communities may additionally miss out on essential meals help, housing help, and extra.

Whether or not it’s a pair days, a pair weeks, or a pair months, rural communities, particularly ones which are counting on these federal applications, are going to really feel it,” Matt Hildreth, government director of mentioned. “The federal government shutdown is actually simply the newest subsequent step in what’s full and utter chaos from the Republican get together.” 

Right here’s a breakdown of how else rural communities will probably be affected by a authorities shutdown: 

Farm Invoice and Meals Help 

Whereas lawmakers have been busy making an attempt to avert a shutdown, it’s turn into all of the extra possible {that a} farm invoice received’t be handed on time

Permitted each 5 years, the farm invoice is essential for rural areas and impacts practically each facet of the meals system in the USA; it authorizes applications that need to do with conservation, diet, insurance coverage, commerce, and rural growth.

The earlier farm invoice is ready to run out on Sept. 30, although some applications will proceed to obtain funding till the top of the calendar yr.

The farm invoice can also be the laws that governs the Supplemental Vitamin Help Program (SNAP), which helps tens of thousands and thousands of Individuals feed their households. Whereas SNAP advantages will proceed as regular via October, in response to the US Division of Agriculture (USDA), households may see their advantages delayed within the case of an prolonged shutdown. 

In response to a 2018 evaluation from the Meals Analysis and Motion Heart (FRAC), 16% of rural households obtain SNAP, a better share of households than in metros and small cities. Because of this ought to a shutdown happen, rural folks would be the hardest hit by the pause in SNAP advantages. 

A delayed farm invoice may additionally trigger sure meals costs to skyrocket. Wheat, corn, and milk are simply among the merchandise that could possibly be impacted. 

Throughout a shutdown, farm service companies will even cease making loans to farmers throughout harvest time, in response to US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

Different meals help applications, such because the Particular Supplemental Vitamin Program for Ladies, Infants, and Youngsters (WIC), will even be affected by a shutdown.

WIC gives meals, diet info, breastfeeding help and extra to low-income ladies and kids as much as age 5. This system serves practically half of all infants born in the USA. 

Vilsack instructed reporters earlier this month that the “overwhelming majority” of this system’s members would see a right away discount in advantages. 


Rural help rental applications and farm labor housing applications may additionally lose funding within the occasion of a authorities shutdown.

In response to the USDA’s newest rural growth plan, the company’s Rural Rental Help program—which covers the distinction between 30% of an eligible tenant’s earnings and the month-to-month rental price—would proceed to supply help “if funding is accessible,” which can depend upon how lengthy a shutdown lasts.  

As of 2022, roughly 300,000 households acquired help via this system and could possibly be affected by an prolonged shutdown.

The USDA’s authorities shutdown contingency plan additionally notes that no new loans or grants can be supplied throughout a shutdown, and,Vilsack confirmed earlier this month that new homebuyers will be unable to get loans in rural areas. 

Lastly, month-to-month housing help applications, comparable to public housing working subsidies, housing alternative vouchers, and multifamily help contracts, are additionally threatened by a shutdown. These applications function provided that funding is accessible, so if  funding runs out throughout a shutdown, they’d stop to function, in response to the Housing Help Council.

These subsidies assist low-income households afford housing, and in response to the Heart on Finances and Coverage Priorities, 1.5 million folks in rural areas and small cities depend on rental help annually. 

VA Advantages 

Many advantages supplied by the Division of Veterans Affairs (VA)—together with VA healthcare, compensation, pensions, schooling and housing advantages—will nonetheless be obtainable within the occasion of a authorities shutdown however sure assets supplied by the VA can be restricted.

VA Secretary Dennis McDonough mentioned throughout a press convention this month that the company wouldn’t have the ability to conduct outreach with veterans throughout a shutdown. Public-facing regional places of work would additionally shut, and counseling, transition help, and cemetery grounds upkeep wouldn’t be obtainable. 

Many veterans stay in rural areas, as nearly 1 / 4 of all veterans within the US, 4.4 million, return from service to reside in rural communities, in response to the VA.

Roughly six in 10 of those rural veterans (61%) are enrolled within the VA well being care system, which signifies that any VA operations ceasing would have a  vital impact on rural communities. 


Hildreth mentioned that restoration from the shutdown may have a big impact on rural folks, as nicely.

Sooner or later, whether or not it’s this week or two months from now after a brutal shutdown, Republicans in Congress must make a take care of Democrats to fund the federal government. Republicans are proposing extreme cuts to essential applications like housing and meals help, which rural communities depend on.

The Democratic-controlled Senate and White Home have refused to think about the GOP’s excessive calls for, however relying on what a remaining finances deal seems like, the long-term affect of these proposed cuts could possibly be worse than the short-term impacts of the shutdown.

“It’s not simply that they’re going to close down the federal government, it’s that the cuts which are going to be made to those applications in an effort to get the federal government again up and working, they’re going to be devastating,” Hildreth mentioned. “For some cause, Republicans are taking rural voters hostage on this negotiation. The shutdown will come and go for the folks in D.C., however the lingering impacts of the compromises and the cuts that Republicans insist on are actually going to be devastating.” 

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has labored at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, together with serving varied roles at CNBC, NBC Information, Philadelphia Journal, and Philadelphia Model Journal.