Market Matters Blog

Shutdown Causes Uncertainty Over October 11 Reports

There was a lot of uncertainty in the halls of USDA yesterday. When I left the press lock up room after that bearish Quarterly Stocks report, no one knew when they'd be coming to work again. No one knew if there would be an October WASDE and Crop Production report or not. Generally, people were cranky and on edge.

USDA employees are in the dark about what will happen if this shutdown lasts longer than a few days. The personal stress was clear; the professional anxiety pervasive. This is a fun time of year for NASS's statisticians because there's a raft of harvest data for them to sort through and quantify into something that's meaningful for the market.

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But the lab has gone idle, and the data collection for the October reports won't resume until the government is up and running again, my sources tell me. Typically, USDA begins this work on the first of the month.

If this shutdown lasts much longer than a week or so, NASS's information gathering activities could be so significantly delayed that NASS could push back the date of the next report, one source told me. The hitch is that law requires the WASDE and Crop Production to be released between the 9th and 12th of the month.

Will there be a report next week or not? It all comes down to whether or not Congress can come to a deal to fund the government and if they can do it with enough time for USDA to do its research.

Speaking of research, USDA's websites have gone dark -- so much for using NASS's Quick Stats site for adding context to my stories.

Economists expect the economic impact of this shutdown to shave 0.15 percentage points off GDP each week it lasts. While that's not a huge figure, some GDP estimates for the third quarter already show a slowing economy, and if we shave 0.7 percent from GDP (a shutdown lasting one month), there's no denying it will take a toll. If a shutdown lasts that long, the country will run up against the debt ceiling -- and if we don't raise that, it could have a devastating impact on our country's bond rating. Outside market upheaval will likely carryover into grains.

Until Congress ends the government shut down, many farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses won't have access to crucial market information that they use every day. USDA simply stopped issuing it. The best thing farmers can do to change that is to let their Congressmen know how the shutdown is affecting their ability to do business.

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Raymond Simpkins
10/6/2013 | 9:38 AM CDT
Will be interesting to see now what they say and do with all the crops distroyed by high winds and snow this past week.Don't tell me now that those late crops have been all harvested.
10/4/2013 | 5:49 PM CDT
My wife and I are on a well deserved vacation at Moses Cone National Park. I hate people are laid off because of the shut down but so far, don't seem to have many problems with our trip. Maybe we won't have as many problems without those reports as we think.
Freeport IL
10/4/2013 | 1:25 AM CDT
Webster, noun, Terrorism definition; "Systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. It has been used throughout history by political organizations of both the left and the right, by nationalist and ethnic groups, and by revolutionaries. Although usually thought of as a means of destabilizing or overthrowing existing political institutions, terror also has been employed by governments against their own people to suppress dissent;. . . "Webster, noun. Violence definition' "1 : the use of physical force to harm someone, to damage property, etc. 2 : great destructive force or energy do violence to; to harm or weaken (something) ; to make (something) less effective." Does the "shutdown" fit the definition of terrorism? If the nonessential operations will be shutdown, why do we have nonessential operations or are they all essential? And if they are essential why are they closed down - Terrorism? Freeport, IL
harlan deike
10/3/2013 | 9:37 PM CDT
oh come now mr newsom, we are absolutely adrift. without usda numbers i have forgotten how to harvest a crop, dump trucks, till a field and feed the livestock. are there some things or groups that are going to suffer form the gov. shutdown? sure there is but think the vast majority of farmers could give two chits about the usda and their reports. i am pretty they actually hinder the real market forces.
10/3/2013 | 8:59 PM CDT
It sounds like the coffee isn't all that is bitter around the ol' coffee shop.
Brandon Butler
10/3/2013 | 3:11 PM CDT
"An obstinate man doesn't hold opinions; they hold him." There is a commentator and/or market analyst or two that should take that statement to heart, before they give any more information that cause the truly uninformed to lose even more money, while they continue to blame others.
10/3/2013 | 11:23 AM CDT
I like how they shut down the website. I'm sure that actually cost more money to shut it down than just leave it running. It's not like their server leases expired when the gov't shut down. The FEDs are just doing their hardest to whine and moan about not having enough money to print to give away.
10/3/2013 | 9:24 AM CDT
Interesting comments so far. Let me add that stories are starting to come out, in other media sources, talking of how traders and farmers are left adrift without USDA numbers and reports. It was only a matter of time. As you can probably tell, I completely disagree with that sentiment.
Tom Keller
10/3/2013 | 9:01 AM CDT
Good, keep them shut down, tired of the USDA bull----reports that we get ,
Landon Wiseman
10/3/2013 | 8:40 AM CDT
I don't care what government agency it is its all lies, smoking mirrors and hocus pocus. We always seam to find more corn. Where was it hiding? Well its sure not hiding in a 165 bu average.
harlan deike
10/3/2013 | 8:19 AM CDT
yup, i can't hardly sleep at night knowing that there may not be another report coming soon. how will we ever survive? sorry katie, your world may revolve around those reports and the kind of interest they result in but to the average farmer they are not a real useful or necessary tool. too much information is stolen and then given away or sold. to top it off it's accuracy is questionable. as far as i am concerned they could lock the doors and never issue another report. seems like the four gentleman above seem to agree. my father who has not been walking the fields this year has insisted to me that there is some good corn out there and a lot of it does look good from the road. he took a 25 mile run in the combine earlier this week. he was shocked by what he saw from his more elevated view. poor stands, drowned out spots, small ears and lodging don't equal a huge crop. early results have been from 60 - 125 bushels in the southern red river valley. an area that saw a lot of 200+ bushel corn the last few years.
10/3/2013 | 7:50 AM CDT
seen show on history channel where the communists lined the farmers up and shot them in Russia when they took over so stealing our grain by giving false reports is right down their alley. we need honest hard working regular people running this country not a bunch of corrupt liars. they just as well shut down.
Paul Beiser
10/2/2013 | 1:08 PM CDT
Lies lies.... no more lies? ;)
Raymond Simpkins
10/1/2013 | 6:58 PM CDT
Report or no report it is business as usual in other countries . The stocks report of last week don't make any sense! If there is so much corn around why are they moving corn north up river? And why was our ethonal plant paying premiums for new corn?
Farmer Johnson
10/1/2013 | 12:22 PM CDT
Wish the shutdown had been yesterday so the bearish report couldn't be released lol.