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USDA to resurrect monthly soybean crush report

Chicago | Reuters –– The U.S. Department of Agriculture will bring back a much-sought-after monthly oilseeds reports eliminated two years ago due to federal belt-tightening, the director of a key USDA statistical agency said on Wednesday.

The Congressional budget legislation passed last week gives USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service the authority and funds to create several industrial reports, including the monthly fats and oils crushing report dropped two years ago by the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau.

The report measured how many soybeans were processed into oil and meal each month and was used as a market benchmark for soybean consumption — a key to forecasting grain prices for food manufacturers, livestock feeders and exporters.

NASS will also bring back two other monthly reports — fats and oils stocks, cotton stocks and processing — and a quarterly wheat millings survey, Joe Prusacki, director of NASS’s statistics division, said in an interview.

Prusacki said NASS would also be collecting corn oil data from “some” ethanol plants which make that fuel out of corn and produce distillers’ dried grains as a byproduct.

“We will contact some of the ethanol plants because on that fats and oils we’re going to try to collect some corn oil extraction out of the DDGs,” Prusacki said.

He said NASS would not be producing a monthly ethanol production report since the Energy Information Administration (EIA) already reports that data.

“We’ve been doing some background work to get these things started. But you can’t do much without appropriation,” said Prusacki.

He said he could not comment on when the reports will begin again.

“Now we have to go through this whole process of OMB clearance, building the register of operations — it’s that whole startup process,” he said, referring to the Office of Management and Budget at the White House.

U.S. and world grain traders and analysts complained loudly when the government ended the monthly soybean crush report in August 2011, forcing the grains industry to rely solely on soybean crush statics from the National Oilseed Processors Association.

That data relies on members’ accuracy and volunteerism, analysts said.

— Christine Stebbins is a Reuters correspondent covering U.S. grain and oilseed cash and futures markets from Chicago.

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