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Commodity Communicator Weekly

October 11, 2013

THE IMPORTANCE OF AG EXPORTS TO US ECONOMY…..A report released this week by the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress cites the importance of agriculture— and agricultural exports in particular — to the American economy. The report, titled "The Economic Contribution of America’s Farmers and the Importance of Agricultural Exports," notes that the United States is the world’s leading exporter of agricultural products, with a record $141.3 billion exported in 2012 and a $38.5 billion trade surplus for the year for the agriculture sector.

FEDERAL SHUTDOWN KEEPS MARKETS IN THE DARK…..With more than 800,000 federal workers off the job as Congress wrangles over the budget, agricultural producers, traders and analysts are flying relatively blind, underscoring the amount of sensitive market data provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

While federal food safety inspectors were unaffected by the shutdown—designated as "essential" as part of the Department’s contingency plans—USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and Economic Research Service (ERS) are all on the sidelines until Congress passes a continuing resolution to fund the government.

"Markets will continue to function and trades will no doubt be made, but buyers and sellers will not have the normal publicly-available data from which to gauge offers and bids."

Furthermore, USDA took the unprecedented step of completely shutting down its website, withholding historical data from the market as well. A scan of other cabinet-level department websites indicated that most, if not all, were still online, most with the caveat that information was not being updated during the shutdown and that some functions would be limited or unavailable. (Feedstuffs)

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN CONSEQUENCES CONTINUE. . . . .The government shutdown is proving to have consequences many may not have anticipated. American Farm Bureau Federation chief economist Bob Young said many of them affect farmers and ranchers.
“One of the key things for a competitive market is that everybody knows the same thing that everybody else knows,” Young said. “And that’s really what USDA’s reports provide. Everybody knows what USDA says. But when USDA’s reports are not available then folks that have private information have that much more market power, that much more market knowledge.”
That’s just one example. Employees at the Centers for Disease Control who gather and analyze data on disease outbreaks and help to bring them under control were not on the job during a recent salmonella outbreak. There are families who can’t get a home loan because Rural Development offices are closed…imports are sitting in ports because inspectors are furloughed and that barely scratches the surface.

. . . . .Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) said Tuesday she has received assurance from Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) that he will appoint House conferees within the next week to the House-Senate farm bill conference committee. The naming of House conferees will allow formal farm bill conference negotiations to begin, bringing the legislation one step closer to completion.

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