Tuesday, May 21, 2013 by Lee Mannering
A few weeks ago here at PMA we received an update from U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (ERS) Administrator Mary Bohman describing how funding reductions would affect the services ERS provides our industry for the rest of this year. In that update, she stated “many of these products rely on National Agricultural Statistics Service products that have been suspended because of budget reductions. In addition, reductions in the ERS budget limit our ability to quickly identify whether alternative information sources or approaches can be developed in time to meet the scheduled deadlines.”
For our industry, this means that the quarterly Vegetable and Pulses Outlook and Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook reports have been suspended and the Vegetable and Pulses Data and Fruit and Tree Nuts Data (both July-September) are not scheduled for update at this time. The fresh produce industry isn’t the only sector that will have less data from which to work; dairy, livestock, poultry, meat, aquaculture, and rice are also on the receiving end of research cuts.
I’m sharing this news with you in case you regularly use of one or more of ERS’s outlook reports that provide market analysis and statistics on fresh produce, or if you use ERS research as part of your business operations. ERS reports are one of many information sources I turn to when researching responses to PMA members’ questions and I’m disappointed that these reports won’t be available this year. I am hopeful that the data points provided by these reports can be obtained through other sources.
We’ll keep an eye on this issue and let you know if any new developments, or alternatives, arise.