Data and Reporting Services
Q: Will updated Market News Reports continue to be available?
A: AMS will continue to report commodity prices through its Market News service. Market News reporters continue to collect and compile data for Market News Reports. If COVID-19 risks cannot be mitigated at in-person locations (e.g., auctions, markets), reporters who typically collect this key wholesale, retail and shipping data in-person will continue to do so remotely if alternative means are available. We are confident there will be no significant interruption to the availability of these reports.
Q: Will Economic Research Service (ERS) reports be released according to schedule?
A: ERS is committed to on-time delivery of all high priority and mandated products – including all calendared items – as scheduled. ERS is fully prepared to perform its mission-related activities. Nearly all staff are telework ready and ERS is operating in a 100% cloud computing environment.
Q: If release times are missed, will the reports eventually be released?
A: ERS does not anticipate a delay in release of calendared items. If a delay becomes unavoidable, ERS and USDA calendars will be updated to reflect the new release date.
Q: Is ERS still releasing new research reports?
A: Yes. ERS continues to release research reports following its normal process. As with all our mission critical operations, we continue to plan and evaluate our efforts to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers and stakeholders. For research and data supporting the analysis of the coronavirus on U.S. commodity markets, please visit the ERS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Media Resources page.
Q: How have processes changed inside ERS due to COVID-19?
A: ERS is fully prepared to deliver its regular mission-related activities and to support Departmental needs for analysis in a virtual environment. Nearly 100% of staff are telework ready and ERS is operating in a 100% cloud computing environment.
Q: Is ERS continuing to hire new staff and how will they begin working once hired?
A: ERS is continuing to hire. Current vacancies may be viewed on the ERS Careers Page and applicants should continue to apply through USAJobs. New hires are being virtually onboard so that they can work remotely from day one until we can return to the office.
Q: Where can I find the latest ERS research related to COVID-19?
A: The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its associated economic impacts have implications for agriculture, food, and rural America. ERS’ research program considers links in the farm-to-consumer supply chain that may be affected by the pandemic, including farms, processors, handlers, retail outlets, and trade. ERS also examines the economic impacts of the pandemic on consumers, food assistance program participants, residents of rural America, and farmers. The latest ERS research, including its COVID-19 Working Paper series, is available at ers.usda.gov/covid-19.
Q: Is ARS still able to conduct research?
A: The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) continues its mission critical work without interruption. All other work continues as well, as long as research leaders can plan and carry out the work safely on site. We are continuing to support our stakeholders, including action and regulatory agencies. We have begun new research on the impact of COVID-19 on food safety and animals.
Q: What is ARS defining as “mission critical” work? How are you ensuring employee safety?
A: In accordance with Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency memorandum (“Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response”), work where failure to provide the services by essential employees could jeopardize United States agriculture, food safety, and food production and supply and adversely affect the health, welfare and safety of the public.
This includes animal welfare and research that cannot be postponed, and consists of collecting, harvesting, preserving, protecting and analyzing irreplaceable, time sensitive research that is cost prohibitive to replace (e.g. property – physical & intellectual, data, crops, animals, cultures, samples, and germplasm).
To carry out research on site safely, research leaders create a work plan that follows all current local and CDC guidelines. The plan might include staggered work schedules, cleaning protocols, social distancing conventions, etc. Once the plan is approved by the Area Office Team (Area Directors and Pandemic Coordinator) and vetted through headquarters if necessary, work on site proceeds.
Q: How are ARS’ international research efforts being affected by COVID?
A: ARS’ overseas locations are following the same or similar guidance as U.S.-based labs. Regarding international travel, U.S. Embassies are only approving mission critical travel, with considerations for in-country threat levels. Travel of international visitors coming to work in ARS labs is postponed until further notice. ARS maintains its ability to communicate with international colleagues via email, telephone, and video conferencing and other virtual platforms.
Q: Is ARS still offering Climate Hub and other environmental support for farmers?
A: Yes. Each of the USDA regional Climate Hubs is co-located with either an ARS research facility or a U.S. Forest Service Facility. Climate Hub staff will observe all local guidance related to their host facility regarding telework and access to their offices. Climate Hub Directors and staff are telework-ready and will continue to conduct normal business, however most meetings are being rescheduled or moved to a virtual meeting space during this time.
Information on specific events can be viewed online at www.climatehubs.usda.gov/calendar.
Email addresses for Climate Hubs regional Directors can be found online at www.climatehubs.usda.gov/index.php/contact.
Q: If NAL is closed, how will I get access to their resources?
A: While the library’s on-site research and physical meeting spaces are closed, the majority of NAL’s products and services are available online. NAL staff continue to respond to telephone calls, emails, and other forms of requests, and are delivering content through a number of different web platforms accessible through the NAL website at www.nal.usda.gov.
Q: When will the National Arboretum reopen?
A: The outside grounds of the U.S. National Arboretum (USNA) will be open daily to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum and Administration Building are closed to the public.
Visitors are required to follow all posted guidelines designed to maximize the safety and health of all visitors and employees. The Arboretum continues to monitor daily visitors and restrict total numbers, as necessary, to ensure everyone’s health and safety.
Operational updates will be made in accordance with USDA and federal safety guidelines. Employees conducting mission critical work continue to have access to the facility. Updates on the arboretum can be found online at www.usna.usda.gov.
Q: Are visitors required to wear masks when visiting the U.S. National Arboretum?
A: On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order requiring masks and social distancing in Federal buildings and on Federal lands. The U.S. National Arboretum will follow the advice of public health and science experts, by requiring all USNA visitors and employees to wear a mask, maintain social distance while on USNA property, and take other related precautions recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)
Q: Will NASS reports be released according to schedule?
A: At this time, all reports remain on schedule. While we are making every effort to continue delivering federal agricultural statistics, the health and safety of our employees and producers is our first priority. We will evaluate each NASS report as conditions change and will announce any changes to our report schedule by announcement to the media, our website and Twitter as soon as they are available.
Q: If release times are missed, will the reports eventually be released?
A: Our intent is to release all reports on schedule, but we’ll evaluate each one on a case-by-case basis. There are several factors to consider such as timing of reports and whether we’re able to collect enough information. If we’re unable to collect sufficient data, then we can’t publish the report. So, we are asking our survey recipients to respond online.
Q: Would surveys with less-than-normal response rates be released?
A: NASS only publishes estimates that meet our high standards of accuracy. The quality of the data is impacted by the quality of response. We use proven statistical methods that account for a certain level of non-response. While there are minimum amounts of data that we need to collect for reporting accuracy, we use statistical analysis to determine if the data we have collected are sufficient.
Q: NASS is not fully staffed, will new surveys be initiated?
A: Our goal is to move forward with all scheduled surveys. As with all of our mission critical operations, we continue to plan and evaluate our efforts to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers and stakeholders.
Q: How have processes changed inside NASS due to COVID-19?
A: Procedurally, we remain largely the same. Estimates are set under secure conditions to protect reports until they are publicly released at preannounced dates and times. We’re doing everything we can to slow the spread of the virus and continue to deliver important agricultural data. A lot of work is being done remotely. We have also suspended in-person data collection and are asking producers to respond online to minimize the need for follow-up and in-house mail processing.
Q: What does NASS want farmers and market participants to know about what’s happening at the agency right now?
A: We want everyone to know that we are doing everything we can to keep all parties involved safe, and to continue producing the data that American agriculture counts on. Crop and livestock production and economic reports provide indicators of food and feed supply and show the financial condition of U.S. agriculture. It’s critical to know how this looks coming into the growing season. To produce these vital reports, we need strong response. Responding online is fast, secure, and user friendly. We’re happy to help producers with their surveys or questions by e-mail or phone. Our nation’s farmers are counting on us and we’re here to help.
Office of the Chief Economist (OCE)
Q: Will the Office of the Chief Economist's World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) continue to publish the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) according to schedule?
A: OCE fully anticipates that each WASDE will be released on schedule. For WASDE release schedule see www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde. If unforeseen conditions necessitate a change in our report schedule, we will announce those changes to the media, on our website and on Twitter as soon as they are available.
Q: Will the Office of the Chief Economist continue to release the Weekly Weather Report and other reports on schedule?
A: OCE meteorologists fully anticipate to continue to publish the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin in partnership with the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center. The Weekly Weather Report is released at 4:00 pm every Tuesday on OCE's website www.usda.gov/oce/weather/pubs/Weekly/Wwcb/wwcb.pdf (PDF, 5.6 MB). If unforeseen conditions necessitate a change in our reports schedule, we will announce those changes to the media, on our website and on Twitter as soon as they are available.