Farm Talk

October 22, 2013

USDA site is back, but reports may be delayed


Parsons, Kansas — With the federal budget impasse ended, USDA is back to work but it may take some time for regularly scheduled agriculture commodity reports to be issued, the agency said Thursday.

The National Agricultural Statistics “Crop Production” and “Cotton Ginnings” reports and the “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates” scheduled for Oct. 11 were canceled. The next scheduled release for these reports is Nov. 8.

Additionally, NASS's weekly “Crop Progress” reports scheduled for Oct. 7 and 15 were cancelled. The “Cattle on Feed” and “Peanut Prices” reports scheduled for release Friday were being postponed.

“While the lapse in federal funding has ended, NASS has not been able to engage in the necessary data collection and analysis over the past few weeks,” USDA said in a release. “NASS is assessing its data collection plans and evaluating the timing of upcoming reports.”

Drifting in uncertainty

Scott Stiles, Extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said that since the shutdown began, “the markets have been drifting, waiting for this information to come in.

"The end of the government shutdown is adding some support to the grain markets this morning,” he said Thursday. “For the past two weeks the markets have had very little fundamental data to trade. Market volatility is picking up today in anticipation of the wave of data that will return over the next week."

"Traders are anxious to see how harvest is progressing and some confirmation of higher private yield estimates for corn and soybeans,” Stiles said.  

"We’ve gone 21 days without government export sales data. Private news sources have indicated that China has been an active buyer of U.S. corn and soybeans in recent days,” he said. “The grain markets are looking forward to confirmation of these sales.”

Local needs for reporting

The weekly crop report is the result of surveys of county Extension agents nationwide. Even though the national reports were interrupted, some county agents continued collecting and sending information to local media outlets.

Wes Kirkpatrick, Desha County Extension staff chair, said “the rice mill will call asking what percentage has been harvested so they can make decisions on how much room they need to make for incoming grain. Elevators at the river port will ask ‘what’s your estimate? Are there going to be a lot of soybeans harvested this weekend?’ They want to decide whether they need to stay open from dawn until midnight, run half a day or stay closed.”

Cattle producers rely on the weekly Livestock and Grain Market news put out by USDA. In Arkansas, the reporting is done by state employees, but disseminated by USDA. During the shutdown, those in the industry contacted the reporters directly for information.

“Our market news reporters were at the sales barns” during the shutdown, Tom Troxel, associate head-animal science, for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said Thursday “They reported the data and they’ve saved the data. If USDA wants to fill the data gap, we have it.”

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The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. £