USDA Outlook Process
USDA Short-Term Annual Supply and Demand Projections
Provide a Benchmark
Each month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) publishes
annual supply and demand forecasts for major crop and livestock
commodities for the nation and the world. These forecasts appear in
USDA's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE).
ERS analysts--as well as those from other agencies--have an
important role in conducting research and analyses that help shape
the WASDE forecasts for major grains, soybeans, and livestock.
WASDE forecasts are used as benchmarks in the marketplace because
of their comprehensive nature, objectivity, and timeliness.
Annual forecasts appear monthly in WASDE for the following:
- Crops (U.S. and world)--wheat, rice, feed grains (corn,
sorghum, barley, oats), soybeans, cotton, and sugar.
- Livestock (U.S. only)--meat animals, poultry, and dairy.
By defining the fundamental conditions in commodity markets,
these forecasts affect decisions made by farmers and ranchers,
other businesses, and governments.
Interagency Committees Coordinate Agricultural Commodity
Several USDA agencies contribute to development of the
projections appearing in WASDE, including the Agricultural
Marketing Service (AMS), Economic Research Service (ERS), Foreign
Agricultural Service (FAS), and Farm Service Agency (FSA).
The World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) coordinates the
process, chairs the interagency committees for each commodity, and
issues the WASDE report.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) does not
participate in the interagency committees, but provides most of the
U.S. crop production forecasts and data for livestock production
forecasts. NASS also provides monthly and historical prices and
How the Short-Term Forecasting Process
The process combines data and information. Analysts use survey
results from NASS, market news reports from AMS, trade data from
the Department of Commerce, foreign attache reports and satellite
imagery from FAS, recent weather information analyzed by WAOB
meteorologists, program information and data from FSA, and other
The monthly projections process combines the following:
- Data--Results of producer and industry surveys conducted by
NASS, AMS, and other agencies.
- Economic models and statistical analysis--Analysis conducted by
agencies regarding all aspects of the commodity supply and demand
- Expert judgment--Domestic and international context and
experience brought to the process.
Projections are developed during a 2-week, consensus-based
process that produces the WASDE report. WASDE is generally released
between the 8th and 12th of the month at 8:30 a.m.
ERS releases outlook reports and FAS issues commodity circulars
shortly after WASDE. They provide additional data and key insights
into the factors shaping markets. ERS analysts also develop supply,
demand, and price forecasts for commodities not included in the
WASDE projections (fruits and vegetables) in coordination with the
World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB).
ERS publishes the following outlook report series:
- Cotton and Wool
- Fruit and Tree Nuts
- Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry
- Oil Crops
- Sugar and Sweeteners
- Vegetables and Melons
- And Special Reports
Supply and demand projections developed during the interagency
process play a key role in developing farm-income and food-price
forecasts, and are frequently used as a starting point for analysis
supporting short- and long-term policy decisions.
USDA Also Develops 10-Year Agricultural Baseline
The baseline projections are prepared using an interagency
process similar to that used for short-term projections. The
projections are reviewed and cleared by an interagency committee
that is chaired by the WAOB. ERS has the lead role in preparing the
annual baseline report. These 10-year supply, demand, and
price projections are for major commodities and countries, and are
- Specific assumptions, including normal U.S. and global weather,
the continuation of U.S. policies based on current law, and a
specific global and U.S. macroeconomic scenario.
- A composite of model results and judgmental analysis.
In addition to major crop and livestock commodities, the
baseline also includes projections for fruits, vegetables, and
tobacco. The baseline also contains projections for farm income,
food prices, and the value of U.S. agricultural trade.
The baseline projections are published annually in February,
after the President's Budget is issued. They are used for the
preparation of the President's Budget and as a benchmark from which
to conduct policy analysis (for example, on the expected impacts of
greater trade liberalization on the agricultural sector).
ERS's Forecasting and Research Programs are Strongly
Long-term research at ERS produces critical information that
helps shape our knowledge of markets, how they operate, and how
they are changing. The outlook program helps ERS focus on key
issues facing policymakers, farmers, and industry.