July 27, 2011


US trade associations attempting to save Census Bureau reports



With the US Census Bureau facing budget cuts, a coalition of US agricultural trade associations met with top economists from the USDA to discuss ways to save the census reports critical to their industries.


The trade groups, which include the North American Millers' Association, the American Soybean Association, and the National Cotton Council, hope the USDA will start reporting some of the data in its releases.


However, the USDA has budget problems of its own, which may prevent them from producing the data needed.


The Census reports include data on US production of wheat flour and consumption of cotton. They also estimate soymeal and soyoil production, and how much soyoil is being used to produce biodiesel.


Within the USDA, federal forecasters use the data to calculate monthly supply and demand estimates that can have a dramatic impact on prices for agricultural commodities. Analysts warn loss of the data will add to volatility in agricultural markets.


Industry groups will likely need to step up to cover more of the costs themselves if they want to save the reports, but their budgets are also tight. Industry members were pessimistic about the chances for saving the reports due to the budget cuts.


The reports are slated to end this summer and autumn, with the soy data going away after August.

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