The USDA's National Ag Statistics Service Wednesday announced that Monthly Milk Production Reports will be issued monthly as originally scheduled through September, despite earlier concerns that lack of funds would keep them on hold.
"NASS received a lot of feedback comment indicating that this is an issue," said NASS's Joe Prusacki in a USDA interview. "So what we have decided to do is publish only milk production through the end of the fiscal year. Those milk production statistics will be based solely on administrative data."
Quarterly producer surveys, which represented a more expensive portion of compiling the reports, the USDA says, will not be completed through September. This means that there will be no data on the number of milk cows and no data on rate per cow.
To provide the additional estimates and true estimates based on administrative data, a scientifically based statistical survey will be necessary in the longer term, NASS says. They estimate that the use of various administrative data to establish the monthly estimates of milk production will provide a consistent estimation process across all states, while maintaining cost savings by not conducting the producer survey.
When USDA Secretary Vilsack first indicated that the milk reports were on the chopping block last month, the National Milk Producers Federation President Jerry Kozak said eliminating the report would "detrimentally affect how decisions are made about the marketing of milk, starting at, but not ending with, the farm level."
Kozak said the reports are important for industry outlook purposes and essential for estimating monthly commercial use of dairy products. Part of his concern was the Annual Milk Production, Disposition and Income 2012 Summary report, which NASS Wednesday announced would now be released as scheduled on April 25.
The PDI report provides the annual number of milk cows, production per cow, and production for the year at the state and national levels for 2011 and 2012. The amount of milk used on farms and the amount sold, cash receipts, and value of production by state and at the U.S. level are also included.
NASS says the decision to move forward with the limited milk production estimates is a reflection of the ongoing evaluation of its programs and its FY 2013 fiscal situation.
There is no word yet on the plan for milk reports after Sept. 30, 2013, but NASS says it will continue to evaluate its programs and budget for FY 2014, which begins Oct. 1.
"What we will have to do is look at all of our programs and go through that process and decide what can we do and what we can't do, so that will be the whole exercise we will be doing though the latter part of 2013 as we move into fiscal year 2014," Prusacki noted.