The partial Federal government shutdown will ended its second week Friday, January 4th. Several significant sources of market information are not available. USDA agencies such as ERS, NASS, WAOB, and FAS are closed and have not released reports or data as scheduled. USDA’s AMS market news information is still being reported, which has not always been the case in past shutdowns. AMS employees are now deemed essential, so the agency can still collect and disseminate market price data and information.
Already in the two short weeks of shutdown, several NASS reports were not released as scheduled. Poultry Slaughter, Agricultural Prices, Broiler Hatchery, and Dairy Products are among the essential livestock reports that have not been released. FAS is scheduled to release November trade data on January 8th, and the next WASDE is scheduled for January 11, but that data, too, will not be available if the shutdown continues. The most extended government shutdown occurred in 1995 to 1996 and lasted three weeks. In the past, some data has been able to be recovered and released at a later date. However, in the cases where the data is done by survey, as with many of the USDA NASS reports, that data is usually not recoverable because the survey was not sent or collected.
Actual slaughter data has been among the most missed weekly market data. That data is compiled by NASS but is released by AMS. It provides valuable information on weights, production, and the number of head slaughtered. The next couple of weeks hold several vital reports that could affect the tone of the entire year. For example, the annual Cattle Inventory is scheduled to be published at the end of this month, that report provides one of only two point estimates in the size of the beef herd, and the number of replacments animals producers are holding. The monthly Cattle on Feed report also is at risk. Without that type of information, cattle markets will be flying blind.