As printed in our October 25, 2013 issue...

ROUTINE USDA REPORTS have gone unpublished since the October 1 government shutdown. Crop Progress, Dairy Market News and Dairy Products were not released as federal employees were furloughed. If the impasse ensues, Milk Production also will not be released.

FOOD INSPECTIONS AND RECALLS conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were deemed somewhat essential to the country. However, only 700 of its 14,500 assigned employees remained on that job.

WITH EACH PASSING DAY, ag markets have become more adrift as harvest data, export and import totals, and production reports have gone uncollected. Ironically, some dairy data can be extrapolated because federal milk market orders were still operational due to industry funding.

A RECORD CORN HARVEST could be in store, reported the Dow Jones Newswires after conducting its own survey. It projected a 13.8-billion-bushel corn crop which would top 2009's 13.1-billion-bushel record.

CORN FUTURES CLOSED at a 37-month low in mid-October. In addition to higher harvest expectations, a leaked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) draft document suggested the agency would reduce the ethanol mandate next year. That report placed further pressure on corn prices.

THE MILK-FEED RATIO IMPROVED to its best level since November 2011. September's 1.86 yielded a $9.15 income over feed cost. Values used: $19.80 milk, $5.28 corn, $13.80 soybeans and $194 alfalfa.

CLASS III MILK FUTURES ROSE 45 cents for November through April contracts since early September. Those six contracts now average $17.15.

U.S. DAIRY EXPORTS remained on a record pace due to strong demand and a weak dollar relative to currencies from other major dairy exporters.

FORMAL TALKS COULD BEGIN ON THE FARM BILL now that the House appointed its conference committee of 17 Republicans and 12 Democrats. The House must iron out differences with the Senate which appointed 7 Democrats and 5 Republicans to its committee.

FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS remain a sticking point. As author of the deal-breaking amendment of the House's first farm bill push, Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) may insist on the $39 billion in program cuts.

WHERE DAIRY STABILIZATION FALLS remains an unknown. Neither Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) or David Scott (D-Ga.), authors of the amendment to strip stabilization from the House bill, are on the committee.

BRIEFLY: An early October blizzard killed an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 head of beef cattle in the north Central Plains. China accounted for $2.5 of the $11.4 billion of New Zealand dairy exports last year. Now the Kiwi's top importer, China ranked No. 31 in 1992.

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