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Shutdown could have impacts on Valentine’s Day

Prince Frederick, MD - For many people, the partial shutdown of the federal government, which began in late December and ended 35 days later, put a damper on Christmas and the New Year celebration. Another big day on the calendar, Feb. 14—Valentine’s Day—might experience some adverse impacts even though the shutdown ended 20 days earlier. Valentine’s Day is a big occasion for flowers, wine and food. Some businesses in those fields might have to endure supply shortage this year.

In a story published days before the shutdown ended, CBS News reported that “nine out of every 10 retail flowers come from overseas through Miami International Airport.” The imported flowers need to be federally inspected and the inspectors were off the job during the shutdown.

The online magazine Northern Virginia reported in early January that inspectors for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were furloughed during the shutdown. In an FDA press release dispatched 10 days prior to the end of the shutdown, the agency reported that “as the partial government shutdown stretches into its fourth week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said yesterday that inspections involving high-risk foods, such as cheese, dairy products, and some fresh produce, will restart as early as today. On Twitter yesterday, he said sampling of high-risk imported produce is already under way in the Northeast. ‘We'll expand our footprint as the week progresses. Our teams are working,’ he said, adding that the FDA will also conduct drug compounding inspections this week.’”

According to a report by ABC Television affiliate WTVG in Swanton, OH, owners and operators of a regional winery were concerned that the shutdown would force them to scuttle plans to roll out a new holiday wine just in time for Valentine’s Day. Federal agencies must approve new labels for new wines. Benfield Winery was hoping to introduce “Love Potion Number Wine” in time for Valentine’s Day. “That’s not going to happen because of the government shutdown,” Robert Benfield told WTVG last month. The winery sells its products locally and in 38 states. They need the approval from Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau in order to create the new wine and label it. The entire process takes about one month so for the time being, Love Potion Number Wine appears to be a no-go.

If Congress doesn’t come to an agreement soon to stave off another shutdown---well, St. Patrick’s Day could be severely challenged. That's a sobering thought. Stay tuned.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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