Dairy reports fall under stalemate

By Lee Mielke

The dust is settling over this week’s government “shutdown” due to political differences in Washington but while the majority of government workers are unaffected, many were furloughed. The impact on the dairy industry boils down to this: the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Economic Research Service (ERS) and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) have been furloughed. Data reported by these agencies will be on hold. USDA’s Dairy Market News is also shuttered and, with it, its daily and weekly reports.

The monthly Dairy Products report – to be released today – was not and, unless the Administration and Congress come to an agreement, several others will be suspended, including the October Milk Production report, which would have resumed milk cow numbers and output per cow data, stopped because of the sequester. Other casualties are the Cold Storage, Livestock, Dairy & Poultry, World Ag/Supply/Demand Estimates, and Ag Prices reports. 

USDA will not publish the weekly National Dairy Products Sales Report (NDPSR), AMS-surveyed dairy product prices used to calculate federal order Class milk prices, as well as settlements for Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) futures. 

High Ground Dairy’s Eric Meyer reports sources at USDA informed him that it would be invoking a special rule taken from the Code of Federal Regulations titled “Equivalent Price” in calculating this week’s class prices. 

Remaining on the job are USDA dairy graders and inspectors, as well as federal milk marketing administrators, as their funding is provided by the industry. 

Next week is going to be very lean regarding government reports for the dairy markets to feed on, with or without all government workers at their posts. The only scheduled USDA report is the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. The California Department of Food and Agriculture would have issued its November Class I milk prices on Thursday, Oct. 10, but that is being delayed until Oct. 22 as a result of the recent milk price hearing in Sacramento.