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USDA to consult exporters in early 2023 on new sales reporting system

By Julie Ingwersen

CHICAGO, Nov 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has no time frame for re-launching upgrades to its weekly export sales reports after a failed roll-out in August, and will spend the first quarter working with exporters to address any problems, a USDA official said on Tuesday.

Exporters are required by law to report sales of U.S. agricultural commodities to the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, which reports weekly export sales each Thursday. The reports are closely watched by grain and livestock traders.

Technical problems forced the USDA to retract its first export sales report on the new system on Aug. 25, sending traders scrambling. The agency then withheld further reports for three weeks, until Sept. 15, when the government resumed releasing reports through its legacy system.

In early 2023, the USDA plans to hold training webinars with exporters and collect feedback about the government's new 2.0 export sales reporting system, and resolve any issues before the government attempts another roll-out.

"We have yet to develop a time frame for another launch attempt for the 2.0 system, but we hope that much of the engagement with industry will occur in the first quarter of the next calendar year," Patrick Packnett, a deputy administrator with the Foreign Agricultural Service, said in an online USDA data meeting on Tuesday.

"We understand how important this data is to our agricultural stakeholders and we truly regret the lapse in data availability that resulted from the unsuccessful launch of the system," Packnett said.

The USDA plans to survey data users and test its new system with exporters before assessing when to schedule another launch, he said.

The government is also working on a way to offer a preview of the new export sales system, Packnett said. He described the existing legacy system as "antiquated." (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Richard Chang)

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