Don’t expect USDA market reports, ag statistics during government shutdown

USDA closed logoDon’t look for any type of U.S. Department of Agriculture market reports, ag statistics or supply and demand estimates as long as the government remains shut down.

That was the status update the USDA issued Dec. 28, 2018, one of the last days its public relations department was still working.

Some functions, such as inspection of agricultural goods — including grains — and pest inspection of imports and exports at ports will continue as they are supported by user fees.

Eligible households will still receive monthly food stamps, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, for January.

Child nutritional programs at schools will continue into February. Meal providers are reimbursed 30 days after the end of the service month.

Other services that will continue past Jan. 1 include:

• Natural Resources Conservation Service offices will remain open to support conservation technical and financial assistance (such as Environmental Quality Incentives Program and easement programs). Call your local NRCS office first to verify this information as it may have changed since the release was initially released.

• Market Facilitation Program payments to producers who have already certified production with the Farm Service Agency.

The above statement from USDA contradicts what USA Rice has found.

Despite reports that Market Facilitation Program payments and other payments may still be disbursed from FSA, USA Rice understands that no FSA-derived payments, including MFP payments, are being disbursed,” the rice group reported in its Friday, Jan. 3 “The Daily” e-newsletter. 

• Trade mitigation purchases made by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

• Agricultural export credit and other agricultural trade development and monitoring activities.

USA Rice has found these these functions, too, are being severely hampered by the government shutdown.

“USA Rice activities through the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program are severely curtailed due to no allocation of funds for this fiscal year,” Vice President International Sarah Moran reported in “The Daily.”  “Additionally, awards for the new Agricultural Trade Promotion program were expected in early January but that too will be delayed while the government is shutdown.  There are limited tenders for food aid and nutrition assistance programs.”

• USDA’s Market News Service, which provides market information to the agricultural industry. Data is spotty. The cotton classing report is up to date as is a report covering daily movement of fruit and vegetables through selected ports. But reports covering livestock and grain only go through mid-December.

Services that are temporarily discontinued include:

• USDA Farm Service Agency county offices closed at the end of business on Dec. 28, 2018.

• NASS statistics, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, and other agricultural economic and statistical reports and projections.

• Assistance for the control of some plant and animal pests and diseases unless funded by cooperators or other non-appropriated sources.

• Research facilities except for the care for animals, plants and associated infrastructure to preserve agricultural research.

• Provision of new grants or processing of payments for existing grants to support research, education and extension.

• Economic Research Service Commodity Outlook Reports, Data Products, research reports, staff analysis and projections. The ERS public website will be taken offline.

For a full list of shutdown plans by USDA agency and office, click  here.

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