Obama Budget Includes Plan for NASS to Restart Some Industrial Reports

April 12, 2013 03:04 AM
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Resumption of crush, wheat milling and cotton data envisioned in plan for NASS

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

A resumption of data for oil oilseed crushing, fats and oils data, wheat milling information and cotton stocks would take place under the budget plan for FY 2014 unveiled this week by the Obama administration, with the responsibility falling to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service (NASS).

Background: The Census Bureau, as it prepared for its FY 2012 budget, terminated several of their Industrial Reports, including monthly Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings; Fats and Oils Production, Consumption, and Stocks; and Consumption in the Cotton System and Stocks. Also, Census opted to discontinue the quarterly Flour Milling Products report.

In the USDA budget for FY 2014, the administration included a request for “approximately $1.3 million in new funding to maintain production of four, priority Current Industrial Reports (CIR) out of approximately forty-seven reports that were formerly produced by the US Census Bureau. These reports are the only source of critical information to support estimation requirements for USDA agencies, including NASS and the Census of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, World Agricultural Outlook Board, and the Office of the Chief Economist. The reports are also used by private industry to monitor the effect of international trade on domestic production, evaluate the relationship between company and industry performances, analyze markets and current business conditions, and plan future operations.”

A key change. Importantly, NASS contacts indicate that previously, there would have to have been legislative language prepared for the agency to take over these reports as there is a prohibition in law of NASS and other agencies duplicating efforts. But now that the Census Bureau no longer collects the data and prepares the reports, the duplication issue becomes a moot point, one source noted.

Of course the key is funding and NASS already discontinued several reports in October 2011 due to budget cuts and most recently suspended publication of several reports due to the sequester spending reductions.

The funding for NASS to take over the four Industrial Reports is accomplished by earmarking $1.3 million from the Census of Agriculture pool of money, contacts advise, so it would not be “new” funds being used to facilitate conducting data gathering and providing the reports.

It’s not clear whether the proposal will find support in Congress, but contacts advise that NASS had done considerable outreach with House lawmakers when the termination of the Industrial Reports first surfaced, and there was general acceptance of the plan at that time. One key matter is whether that support still exists, said one source, adding that it was not clear whether the Senate would also be inclined to back the effort.

There is also some discussion within USDA relative to ethanol and co-products such as DDGs and oil produced as part of the ethanol process. The US Energy Information Agency (EIA) publishes data on US ethanol production, but there remains a gap relative to the production of the co-products of the ethanol process.

Comments: This effort appears to offer what some think is a solid option to see the resumption of the data as they were a key component for several USDA agencies to verify usage data for several commodities. But if there is no agreement on a USDA budget for FY 2014 or if the provisions like this are not melded into an omnibus or alternative spending plan if individual spending bills are not completed, this could make the resumption of these reports little more than a concept.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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