Government running, but USDA reports delayed

Published on: Oct 17, 2013

ALTHOUGH Congress agreed to an eleventh-hour deal to restore funding and reopen the federal government, several key U.S. Department of Agriculture data reports will not be issued, and others will be postponed. The October crop reports, due out Oct. 11, will be cancelled, and the Cattle On Feed report due out Oct. 18 will be postponed.

USDA employees, among the more than 800,000 federal employees furloughed during the more than two-week-long shutdown, were expected to return back to their jobs Tuesday. Furloughed workers are expected to receive back pay for the time they were off the job, as part of the bill restoring funding passed and signed Oct. 16.

The October Crop Production report issued by the National Agricultural Statistics Service and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates issued by the World Agricultural Outlook Board will not be issued. Instead, the Department will work toward the November edition of both reports, scheduled for released Nov. 8. The October feedlot inventory report, due out Friday, will be postponed to an unspecified date, to give NASS time to gather and analyze the requisite data.

It is unclear yet how quickly NASS will be able to release other upcoming reports of interest to the market, including the weekly Crop Progress report due out each Monday. The Department said it would not issue the Oct. 7 and 15 editions of that report, leaving open the likelihood that the issue scheduled for next Monday will occur on schedule.

Perhaps of even greater interest to the markets is how quickly Agricultural Marketing Service staffers are able to restart the massive daily price, supply and demand reporting apparatus it administers, including daily livestock slaughter and price summaries. Absent those reports, the markets have largely relied on industry estimates and private market reporting services.

“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,” a USDA spokesman said in a statement. “NASS is assessing its data collection plans and evaluating the timing of upcoming reports.”