A Mainstay USDA Report Turns 50

USDA is celebrating a special birthday for a special and long-running USDA report this week.

September 7 1973. USDA outlaw Board Chairman Mark Jekanowski says that was when the USDA’s World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates report, the WASDE, was first released to the public, and he says it’s been pretty much monthly happening ever since. Now, in case you’re unfamiliar with WASDE, It’s a report issued monthly with USDA has updated forecast for us and foreign crop and livestock production supplies domestic use exports and prices. And actually the report is older than 50 years old. Mark says USDA produced that report for years.

But it was just an internal USDA report.

But obviously that changed in September of 1973 brought on by several circumstances.

Markets really started to become very volatile, perhaps largely reflecting the huge grain purchases by Russia the previous year in 1972, and then because of those prices were spiking, I think USDA probably faced some pressure to start releasing better data to help the markets manage this volatility. It seemed right at the time to start formally releasing this report to the public.

Although for the first few years the report dealt only with US crops.

Global developments were just far less important. You know, we weren’t as much of an export-oriented country as we are today.

The report became global in 1980. Livestock added to the report in ‘82, Mark Jekanowski says the whole idea of making the WASDE report public was an effort to promote transparency in agricultural markets. And that’s something that the report continues to do today. Of course, back in the ‘70s analysts were trying to do forecasting with no computers, no internet or anything like that. And of course today, that’s completely changed.

But the basic processes of pulling in experts from across USDA are largely unchanged from 50 years ago,

Mark says the WASDE report is highly regarded in the world of agriculture. He says there are many private companies out there doing agricultural forecasting…

But ultimately even those private sector services tend to ultimately try to predict what’s going to be in  the WASDE.

Showing that the WASDE report is looked upon with a lot of respect and authority.