USDA to issue long-term crop data early in bid to be more timely

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Chicago | Reuters — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will issue some of its 10-year supply-demand projections for major U.S. crops and livestock two months early on Thursday to provide more current information to global commodity traders, a USDA economist said on Wednesday.

“The projections are more timely now than when the complete report is released Feb. 11 since the base period for the projections is based on the November WASDE,” David Stallings, a senior economist and projections coordinator for World Agricultural Outlook Board, said in an email response to a Reuters query.

The WAOB, a USDA division, produces the USDA’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, the data benchmark for the world’s food and cotton industry.

USDA said Tuesday it would break precedent and issue its latest 10-year projections for “selected” major crops and livestock products on Thursday morning, two months earlier than usual. The full data and analysis will be issued on Feb. 11, 2015, ahead of the agency’s annual Outlook Forum set for Feb. 19-20 in Washington, USDA said.

The projections encompass the government’s full intelligence about coming world supply, demand and prices. The information is keenly watched each year by global markets, policymakers, farm banks, farm suppliers and farmers.

“A release in December lessens two problems that we have had with past publications,” Stallings said.

“First, it would answer questions about why the projections do not have January NASS revisions, such as the Crop Production Annual, Dec. 1 Grain Stocks, and Winter Wheat Seedings,” he said, referring to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service which compiles U.S. domestic farm statistics.

Stallings also said Thursday’s release “would lessen potential confusion between the almost simultaneous release of the complete long-term projections report (scheduled for Feb. 11) and the Feb. 20 Agricultural Outlook Forum’s short term projections.”

The early-release tables will be posted on at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday.

— Christine Stebbins is a Reuters correspondent covering grain and oilseed markets from Chicago.

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