We’re not real sure what we are “Previewing” this week, since hardly any of the numbers that we use are available. There are no Production and Price Summary tables this week for good reason. I suppose you producers are feeling that impact in spades and it doesn’t appear that the end is in sight.

The federal government shutdown, of course, has nothing to do with our business, but will have more and more profound impacts each day it drags on. “You never know how much something means until it is gone” certainly applies to this situation. We criticize, nitpick and fume with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over its data, but when there is nothing to criticize, nitpick and fume over, we see just how valuable those data are. Now it is possible to be both critical and appreciative, and we probably ought to pay more attention to those attitudes in our everyday dealings with USDA. I hope that we do so in the future even if we haven’t done so in the past.

The situation as it stands is this: The price reporting function of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has not been deemed “critical” and is thus shut down until further notice. The last data published under mandatory price reporting for hogs and pork was Monday, Sept. 30. The “reports” for that day cannot be accessed but the data for that day – at least those data that were published that day – can be accessed at http://mpr.datamart.ams.usda.gov/. At least one teeny part of the government is still working.

I have not looked at all of the data currently generated by this site, but I do know that one item (report volume for negotiated wholesale pork cuts) looked pretty screwy this morning in that every weekly number was the same for January through July. So be a bit cautious about the results of any searching you do at the Datamart site.