By SEAN ELLIS
BOISE -- Hop growers are trying to come up with money that would allow USDA to continue publishing annual reports that are used by the industry to make important marketing decisions.
Because of federal budget sequestration, USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service announced in March it would eliminate a host of reports and surveys, including all five hop reports: the March and September stocks, June acreage, August harvest estimates and December national hop reports.
Hop Growers of America, which is partly funded by assessment money from growers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, used $13,500 in budget reserves to allow USDA to publish this year's June acreage report.
The HGA board of directors decided July 23 not to spend an additional $15,700 in reserve money to fund this year's September hop stocks report. The board is waiting to see what action Congress takes on NASS funding appropriations for fiscal year 2014 before deciding whether to spend $19,300 to fund the December report.
"Those reports are really important. They aid growers in planning decisions," said grower Mike Gooding, president of the Idaho Hop Commission. "They're important enough that the HGA funded the one and now we're trying to figure out what to do on the (other) one."
NASS officials won't know until after Oct. 1 whether they will have enough funding in fiscal 2014 to reinstate the reports they eliminated in March and the HGA board will decide during its October meeting how to proceed on the issue, said HGA Administrator Ann George.
She said the December report is the group's highest priority because it contains a host of information the entire hop industry uses to make important marketing decisions.
"It's used all up and down the chain, from growers to brewers," she said.
The report contains information on total production, yield by variety and state, season average price and harvested acres.
"The December report is a comprehensive report," Gooding said. "It's extremely important to me as a grower."
The June acreage report is HGA's second-highest priority, George said.
HGA is turning to industry partners to help fund some of the reports and asked the Brewers Association for a $10,000 grant to help fund U.S. hop statistics collection.
In a letter to the Brewers Association, George said the HGA is exploring other options, including having the state hop commissions collect and compile the June acreage report.
"However, we realize the importance of having an independent agency like NASS collect and disseminate this information, and feel it is important to retain the December national hop report as the minimum program," she said.