WASHINGTON — Representatives from Indiana corn and soybean groups saw firsthand the tight security the U.S. Department of Agriculture has in place leading up to the release of its crop reports.
USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released its highly anticipated crop production report Aug. 12, which provided the first survey-based look at yields and production for this growing season.
The public release of the report was at noon Eastern time. However, there were some behind-the-scenes activities, as well, that included an early look at the data in a secure room lockdown.
Among those attending the report release were: Joe Stoller, Bremen, Indiana Soybean Alliance director; Jerry Osterholt, Roanoke, Indiana Corn Marketing Council director; Brian Warpup, Warren, ISA director; Steve Phares, Albion, ISA director; Dave Blower, ISA, ICMC and Indiana Corn Growers Association news and media relations manager; Ed Ebert, ICMC, ICGA and ISA senior market development director; Khyla Goodman, ICMC, ICGA and ISA industry affairs outreach and membership manager; and Maggie Hancock, ICGA, ICMC and ISA market development project manager.
Market-sensitive Agricultural Statistics Board reports are compiled and issued under special security conditions known as “Lockup.”
Guests are able to visit the Lockup facility to tour the secured area to learn more about the stringent security and report procedures used by ASB.
About 45 minutes prior to the release of the crop production report, guests were able to see the data in the Lockup room, but had no contact with anyone outside until the public release of the information.
The briefing was led by Lance Hoenig, NASS crops branch chief.
“We went through security to go into the USDA building. They then took us to another room and took our cell phones away and other personal belongings. Then we went to another room, and they briefed us on how they get all of their statistics. NASS was there and from there they took us to the lockup room where there was another security checkpoint before we went in there,” Stoller said.
“When we sat down in the Lockup room, they already had printouts of the report ready for us. We probably knew the results maybe 40 minutes prior to its public release.
“It was really neat to see how these numbers are compiled and how these reports are put out. It’s interesting. It’s a little more secure than I would have thought. I’ve always been a little skeptical thinking that maybe the reports are leaked the night before or something, but I don’t really think they are.”
“It was the first time for me and I didn’t know what to expect, but everything is very strict,” Osterholt added.
“You have to do everything they say, and they have an escort that takes you everywhere. You put everything in your pockets in a locker. You keep your driver’s license and you take everything else out of your pockets.”
The Indiana growers learned early the USDA estimates their state’s soybeans to average a record 60 bushels per acre, one-half bushel above 2020, along with record total production of 349.8 million bushels.
USDA estimated Indiana corn to average 189 bushels per acre, 6 below 2021.
“That kind of caught me a little off-guard. I just don’t quite see it. That’s a pretty lofty goal,” Stoller said of the record soybean prediction.
“We got really dry early on for about two weeks after July 4. I think the top end of the crop was hurt, at least on the corn. Now we are seeing some rain and a little cooler weather, but now we’re seeing tar spot, too. Our soybeans were planted in late May.”
“They said Indiana soybean yield was going to be a record this year. I was surprised at that because my soybeans don’t look like they’re going to be a record, but hopefully I’m pleasantly surprised,” Osterholt continued.
His soybeans were planted by late-May, first of June.
Osterholt was asked if the 189 bushels per acre corn yield average forecast was in the ballpark.
“I think I can do that,” he said.