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USDA Studying Data Releases as Commodities Trading Hours Expand

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May 14 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is studying procedures for releasing crop reports as exchanges add trading hours for corn, soybeans, wheat, soybean meal, soybean oil, oats and rough rice, Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

CME Group Inc., owner of the world’s largest futures exchange and grain markets, plans to give traders access for 22 hours a day starting next week. The move will result in USDA releasing reports during trading hours. The department hasn’t decided whether to change its release schedule, Vilsack said.

“We have to be careful before we make any decisions,” he said today in an interview in his office at USDA headquarters in Washington. “It’s not just our markets that are impacted, it’s markets all over the world.”

The CME announced its new schedule May 1, three weeks after competitor IntercontinentalExchange Inc. in Atlanta said it plans to offer trades on futures and options on grains.

Agriculture contracts will trade for 23 hours, starting at 5 p.m. Sundays and ending at 4 p.m. Mondays Chicago time. Trading on the Chicago-based CME will close for two hours, then resume at 6 p.m. for 22 hours, a schedule that will continue through Fridays, the CME said. Floor trading is unchanged from 9:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. daily.

The USDA’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report is released at 7:30 a.m. Chicago time.

IntercontinentalExchange, based in Atlanta, announced plans on April 12 to provide futures and options trading in U.S. grains and oilseeds. The contracts, which settle on a cash basis linked to prices on CME Group’s Chicago Board of Trade, started trading today.

Vilsack, noting the 150th anniversary of the USDA tomorrow, said data-collection has been a core function of the agency. The next challenge is improving information worldwide, he said.

“Markets don’t just reflect what’s happening in the United States,” Vilsack said. “If we don’t have accurate information from providers all over the world, those markets will not be as accurate as they need to be.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Bjerga in Washington at abjerga@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net

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