US delays key agriculture reports due to government shutdown
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) delayed several major domestic and world crop reports because of the two-week-old partial government shutdown, the agency said this week.
New release dates for the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report and other data originally scheduled for Friday, January 11, will be set once government funding is restored, USDA said.
Traders regard the supply and demand report as the gold standard for crop forecasts. Its release often roils Chicago Board of Trade grain and soy futures and sets price direction. Farmers rely on the data when planning for planting and harvesting.
“This all just adds to uncertainty,” said Dan Basse, president of AgResource Co in Chicago. “Whether it’s sales or Chinese demand or anything, we are shooting in the dark.”
In November, the USDA lowered its 2018 yield estimates for the U.S. corn and soybean crops, and Basse said traders expect further reductions in January.
Aside from U.S. forecasts, the report includes USDA’s latest fix on everything from corn and soy production in major exporters Brazil and Argentina to projected wheat exports from top suppliers such as Russia, the European Union, Argentina and Australia.
Also delayed are a quarterly report on U.S. grain stocks, a final U.S. crop production report for 2018 and USDA’s report on winter wheat seedings for harvest in 2019.
“Everybody needs a god, if you will, and in the grain world, the USDA tends to be that” for data and statistics, Basse said.