U.S. delays key agriculture reports due to government shutdown
Updated 15:53, 08-Jan-2019
["north america"]
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) delayed several major domestic and world crop reports because of the two-week partial government shutdown, the agency said on Friday. 
New release dates for the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report and other data originally scheduled for Friday, January 11, will be set once government funding is restored, USDA said. 
Even through the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill on Friday which would fund the Department of Agriculture through September 30, the reports cannot be released on the originally scheduled time as they need lead time for analysis and compilation.
Traders regard the supply and demand report as the gold standard for crop forecasts. Its release often roils Chicago Board of Trade grain and soy futures and sets price direction. Farmers rely on the data when planning for planting and harvesting.
“This all just adds to uncertainty,” said Dan Basse, president of AgResource Company in Chicago. “Whether it's sales or Chinese demand or anything, we are shooting in the dark.”
In November, the USDA lowered its 2018 yield estimates for the U.S. corn and soybean crops, and Basse said traders expect further reductions in January.
Also delayed are a quarterly report on U.S. grain stocks, a final U.S. crop production report for 2018 and USDA's report on winter wheat seedings for harvest in 2019.
U.S. farmers already battered by the U.S.-China trade war may also face delays in crucial aid and loan payments from the federal government because of the shutdown.
U.S. government pledged up to 12 billion U.S. dollars in aid last year to help offset some of the losses for crops hit by retaliatory Chinese tariffs imposed in response to Washington's tariffs on Chinese goods. The deadline to apply for the aid is January 15.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will determine if the deadline should be extended, according to a statement USDA's Farm Service Agency sent out on Friday.
The shutdown began on December 22, when one-quarter of the federal government ran out of money and had to close their doors because of a budget dispute between the White House and Congress. 
President Trump threatened on Friday to keep the federal government partly closed for “months or even years” if he did not get five billion U.S. dollars for his wall at the border.
Source(s): Reuters