This July, following the “sequestration” that reduced funding for a wide range of government programs, USDA did not issue their usual mid-year cattle inventory report. This week the department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announced it again will not publish a report in July 2014, as the new fiscal year begins with sequestration-level funding still in place.

NASS will publish its annual January 1, 2014 Cattle inventory report, which typically becomes available around the end of January.

The most recent report, issued on February 1, 2013, showed beef cows, at 29.3 million, down 3 percent from January 1, 2012 and the calf crop also down by 3 percent. Beef replacement heifers, at 5.4 million, were up 2 percent from a year earlier, suggesting some movement toward herd expansion. Analysts generally expect the January 2014 report to show that trend continuing, with beef cow numbers down somewhat and heifer numbers continuing to move higher as better moisture conditions, lower grain prices and a positive outlook for cattle prices encourage some producers to expand.

The July report is useful to marketers as it provides an early measure of the year’s spring calf crop, replacement heifer numbers and supplies of feeder cattle available for the remainder of the year. The report is not as widely used as the January report or the monthly reports that influence the market in the short term. Quoted in a Reuters article, Doane Advisory Services economist Dan Vaught says "The July cattle report will certainly be missed by the industry. But, you probably won't hear too many loud objections since it's largely an analysts report, unlike the monthly cattle-on-feed surveys that have great import for the markets."

In addition to the July Cattle report, NASS suspended several other commodity reports:

  • Potato Stocks Reports
  • June Rice Stocks Report
  • All Hops and Hops Stocks Estimates
  • Annual Mink Report
  • June on- and off-farm stocks for Austrian Winter Peas, Chickpeas, Dry Peas and Lentils
  • July acreage forecasts for Austrian Winter Peas, Dry Edible Peas and Lentils
  • All Catfish and Trout Reports including Catfish Feed Deliveries and Catfish Processing; however, NASS will publish the annual catfish and trout report using data collected during the census of aquaculture.
  • NASS will publish the Non-Citrus Fruit and Nut Annual Summary; however, there will be no forecasts, no preliminary summary and no monthly prices in FY2014.
  • NASS will publish the Vegetable Annual Summary; however, there will be no forecasts or monthly prices in FY2014.