The USDA was already under fire for the credibility of its crop reports. Following the government shutdown, the agency is scrambling to pick up the pieces and get back on track with these key updates. The government shutdown came right in the middle of data collection for the October crop production reports, thus most of that data has either been lost or is no longer useable. Joe Prusacki, with NASS, says they have never had to start from scratch before, “We have had to postpone reports, for example during President Reagan’s funeral, the 9/11 attacks and even snowstorms that shut down Washington, but this was a first.” Right now he said they are trying to pick up the pieces and get back on track in November, “We are just going through everything trying to figure out where we are and what we can do and can’t do.”
The USDA announced on Monday that several livestock reports will be combined and released at the end of the month. Prusacki said the Cattle on Feed report scheduled for release on October 18 will be released on October 31. He is hoping that the November crop production report will have some of the data that was supposed to be included in the October report, “Like corn and soybean acreage figurers.”
Gerry Bange, with the World Outlook Board, says they are hoping to have export numbers ready for the November supply and demand report, but admits things are a bit unclear, “One thing we don’t want to do is put out data we can’t vouch for. The data we have at this point is old with regards to the international scene. It is a very difficult situation, but we are making the best of it.” The next scheduled USDA crop report is November 8, and, at this point, nobody knows exactly what will be in that report or how credible it will be.
See a calendar of revised USDA reports