Florida’s first official season citrus forecast is a casualty of the federal government shutdown.
Through the Florida Agricultural Statistics Service in Orlando, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was scheduled to release the first season forecast on Oct. 11.
The budget standoff, however, has delayed that report.
Visitors to the site, http://tinyurl.com/yljvjpf, are greeted with:
“Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available. After funding has been restored, please allow some time for this website to become available again.”
Influential in the industry, the report helps set cash prices for sale of oranges for processing, said Andrew Meadows, director of communications for the Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Mutual.
An agency administrator was quoted in media reports saying the USDA hadn’t assembled all the necessary information before the Oct. 1 government shutdown.
Furloughed office staff would need a week after operations resume to issue the report, according to the reports.
Meadows said growers expect the agency to release some kind of estimate.
It’s uncertain whether it will be the typical formal announcement or in a report.
“I don’t think they have the people in (the office) to make those decisions now,” Meadows said. “It’s a critical piece of information which everyone looks at. We will proceed and we don’t envision any market disruptions. We want the information but we certainly won’t have a crisis on hand if it is delayed indefinitely.”
The agency typically issues monthly crop production forecasts throughout the season, which runs through June.