News Release

USDA Statement on Lockup Access

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2018 – USDA is eliminating its pre-release media Lockup access. This change responds to advances in technology and market activities and will provide continued equal access to USDA information.

Currently, members of the media have access to National Agricultural Statistics Service and World Agricultural Outlook Board reports in time to publish their stories at the same time the reports are released. When this procedure was established the ‘trading floor’ was closed at release time. Market participants had time to absorb information in the reports before trade opened.

In recent years, technology, speed of communications, and electronic trading platforms have changed significantly. The trading floor is now represented by computers operating 24 hours a day absorbing information and trading in fractions of a second. In March 2013, USDA moved data releases to occur at 12:00PM EST, at a time when the markets were most active. The media continued to have pre-release access to the USDA reports in Lockup and use of their IT equipment, but their stories are no longer released in advance of the market open in an effort to reduce market volatility as they once were. Current procedures may allow the press to conduct ancillary activities that may offer a speed advantage exclusive to a few select media organizations and their customers. In addition, staffing, IT security, and ancillary costs associated with maintaining the press room continue to grow over time.

After careful consideration, USDA has determined the costs of maintaining the press room far outweigh any continued benefits to the public. There will be no changes to the reports because of this action. They will continue to be released in their current formats to the USDA website at the prescribed times. The media will be allowed the same access to Lockup and to the USDA data as any member of the public, but they will no longer be given pre-release access to the data, or use of equipment within the Lockup facility.

USDA has received inquiries from the public regarding the latency issues with releases. This motivated the examination of how reports are released as well as the pre-release access granted to media outlets and their ability to transmit immediately when Lockup ends. These actions are a direct response to comments expressed by the public and due diligence to ensure fair access to USDA information. USDA proposes to make this change effective on August 1, 2018.

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