Mid-Mo. roundup of government shutdown effects; millet on the menu

Oct 2, 2013

Many national parks have been locked up because of the federal government shutdown.
Credit Rusty_1 / Flickr

“30 Rock” fans know the phrase well: Shut it down.

Nearly all of the characters have used it at some point during the TV show’s multi season run. And now it’s echoed in real life as the federal government has gone into shutdown mode. This week we take a look at how the shutdown has affecting mid-Missouri.

“Closed.” That’s the message 800,000 federal workers Tuesday from Washington. Thanks to a bitter dispute within Congress and with the President, the government has shut down for the time being. But the impact is being felt across the board, including in our food system. Harvest Public Media’s Abbie Fentress Swanson reports.

The government shutdown has affected several other Missouri organizations, too. The US Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District closed Corps-operated campgrounds and day-use parks across the state Monday. The closing also affects facilities at The Corps’ 18 lake projects. The Corps’ dams and hydropower plant are expected to remain unaffected by the shutdown.

National parks across the country have locked up their gates, too.  In Missouri, that means a lot of would-be float-trippers have to rearrange their plans. Mike Smith of Windy’s Canoe Rental in Eminence, Missouri says his business was immediately impacted.

“We’ve turned away a number of people just today that have wanted to go floating,” he says. “And we can’t take them out because of [the shutdown].”

State and city parks are still open as normal, but the national parks remain closed until the federal government opens its doors again.

Not all federally funded organizations are closed, though.  The Columbia Vet Center and the Harry S Truman Veterans Hospital are still offering full services. The Vet Center is funded by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Acting Team Leader Shawn martin says the center is unaffected by the shutdown.

“Our funds are appropriated a year ahead of time so our 2014 fiscal year funds, which start today, were appropriated last year,” he says.

The Center provides counseling service to in Mid-Missouri veterans and their families suffering from trauma.

Now, while the federal government is shut down, many government employees have been furloughed – some with the possibility of no guaranteed pay. But, US. Representatives and senators are still collecting their salaries. Several legislators have asked that their salaries be withheld, including republican representatives Vicky Hartzler and Jason Smith.  

Republican Senator Roy Blunt said in a phone call to reporters today that the bigger issue here is that the senate hasn’t been able to follow the appropriations process under leader Senator Harry Reid, not that members of congress should being withholding their pay during the shutdown.

“One: I don’t think it matters at all,” he said. “Two: I think it’s a silly conversation to have. But if people want to give their pay back and they’d rather talk about that as the big problem congress faces, they certainly have every right in the world to do that.”

Critics of the symbolic gesture have said of course congress shouldn’t be paid when they aren’t doing their job by passing a budget.

By now you’ve probably heard of quinoa, the heritage grain health nuts are currently obsessed with. But there’s another grain with tremendous potential growing on the Great Plains: millet. It’s drought-tolerant, gluten-free, and nutritionally it competes with quinoa. But millet hasn’t quite taken off. As Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon reports millet has some baggage it needs to shed before it can become the next big food trend.