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Government shutdown impacts USDA divisions

In this weekly Commodities Watch column, John T. Barone, president and commodities analyst for Market Vision Inc., offers a snapshot of the state of commodities for restaurants.

The U.S. government furloughed nonessential employees and shut down many services Oct 1. In regards to commodities, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) divisions of the USDA have stopped reporting data. USDA websites carry the announcement, “Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available.”

We are now in a virtual commodity information blackout. Beef, pork, poultry, dairy, grain and energy data are unavailable. The October USDA WASDE report will be delayed, if not cancelled. Additionally, Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle and hog futures contracts are cash settled to USDA price indexes. Currently, no one knows what will happen when the lean hog contract expires on Oct. 15.

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