As the federal government shutdown drags on, it’s increasingly unlikely that USDA’s October Crop Productionreport – including estimates on alfalfa and other hay production so far in 2013 – will be released on schedule this Friday, Oct 11.

As part of the shutdown, field personnel for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) were furloughed along with other “non-essential” federal workers. The NASS employees are responsible for gathering farmer-survey information on hay and other crops for the report.

“Even if they’d bring people back tomorrow, it’s still going to take some time to collect and summarize all the information,” says Matt Diersen, ag economist with South Dakota State University. Just how long that might take is anybody’s guess.

If there’s a prolonged shutdown, he adds, it’s possible the October hay information may not be issued at all. “Once these agencies are back to work, there’s likely to be a pretty good backlog. They may decide to issue some reports, but not others. There are only so many hours to go around. The longer this (shutdown) goes on, the more complicated everything gets.”

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