FINAL UPDATE — What is Going on at USDA Re: Pork Export Sales?

Posted on 10/18/2019 11:09 AM

An interesting note appeared in this week’s report


USDA's Export Sales Report this week said the following:

“The information in the export sales report for the week ending Oct. 10, 2019 accurately reflects what was reported to USDA by U.S. exporters. This week’s report includes a significant quantity of pork sales for the current marketing year that may have occurred in previous weeks but were not previously reported.”

Link for the information.

Comments: What does USDA mean by “may have occurred?” They do not know? And, USDA's mention of "accurately reflects" is also raising more questions. Did some pork exporters not report sales on a timely basis? If so, who and when? If that occurred, did some hog producers who sold not receive an "accurate" price because one or more exporters did not report timely export sales? What is the penalty for not accurately reporting sales? This situation comes at a time when an increasing number of farmers do not trust USDA relative to crop estimates and other issues. This will not soothe them.

An ag industry analyst emailed this: “Meat sales are ALWAYS understated. Dig up a Census pork export tally Jan-Aug and then look at weekly cumulative data. Not in the same ballpark. This does not mean the weekly report should be ignored, but Census is what counts. Similar discussion on grain, but the grain miscalculations are minuscule compared to meats.”

But another industry analyst cautioned, “You have to be careful with the weekly report and Census comparisons because they are two different sets of data — one is bone and the other boneless, what conversion… there are always some differences.”

Bottom line: U.S. pork industry officials have always supported and say they need transparency. There are some issues within the industry on what they are required to report. What some suspect may have happened is that USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service sent out their note clarifying what is to be reported, and that likely prompted the flurry of sales reported this week.

USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service said the following in an e-mailed statement:

To ensure that export sales data are complete, USDA continually works to identify commodity exporters that may not be registered with the Export Sales Reporting system. Once such exporters are identified and registered, they are required to report all export sales from the beginning of the current marketing year for the commodity in question. Any previously unreported sales are aggregated with the current week's data, which sometimes results in an unusually high level of reported sales for the week.

Future weekly export sales reports that include large quantities of previously unreported commodities will include a statement to that effect.

It does not stop with the pork sales commentary...

USDA also lowered the weekly soybean sales total. USDA originally reported there were net sales of 1.7 million tonnes of soybeans for the week ended Oct. 10. However, now USDA's site says that net export sales of soybeans were 1.601 million tonnes for the week ended October 10. There is no explanation offered on the change.

Charts below from Farm Bureau:

Pork chart

Another pork chart


 

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