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If cut, would you miss USDA reports?

Jeff Caldwell 04/07/2011 @ 12:02pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Officials at the USDA met Thursday to discuss how to handle inevitable budget cuts, namely whether the agency will do away with weekly crop progress reports as well as a key annual June crop production report.

Some USDA staff, reports indicate, said earlier this week that cutting some reports may be necessary to fit within growing federal budget constraints, though others insisted Thursday that it would be "silly" for USDA to do away with any of its current crop reports.

If USDA did away with any of its regular crop reports, would you miss them? "I believe the crop condition report is one of the most important pieces of information in a farmer's marketing arsenal. It is a standard for guaging the condition and current trends for production. It helps level the playing field between producer and buyer," says Agriculture.com Marketing Talk member Palouser. "Without the crop condition report a farmer is much more subject to anecdotal and 'pit' oriented stories that are often WAY off the beam. As in 'rumor.'"

Though some farmers, grain traders and exporters, without the reports, will lack necessary crop statistics on which they typically rely to carry out trades and other market business, other farmers say they're not so sure they'll miss the government data.

"It would be a good thing for the farmer," says Marketing Talk member teaspoon73. "Look what a poor job they did last year."

Though USDA's reports -- like last week's Prospective Plantings report -- typically have influence over the direction of grain prices, other farmers say the growing number of other sources for crop information make USDA's reporting less of a frontrunner and bellwether for cro conditions.

"I don't know if it will make a significant difference in how I market or perceive the crop," says Marketing Talk member Pupdaddy. "Even if the government does cut them, the rest of the industry will just be putting out their own information."

Cutting the government reports has a bright side for private firms who provide similar information, according to Brett Crosby, president of Custom Ag Solutions, Inc.

"It would create an opportunity for a private research firm," Crosby says. "Traders would start paying for the information."


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