USDA to Step Up Enforcement of Export Sales Reporting

It's not a game
Jun 06, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC -- In response to a long term discrepancy between Bureau of the Census export figures and the Export Sales Reporting Program (ESR), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has vowed to step up enforcement of reporting of export sales.

The ESR program requires exporters of reportable U.S. commodities to report each week all of their export sales, regardless of the quantity, to the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).  There are 39 commodities currently covered under the program, including rice.  Reporting under the ESR program is mandatory.  Any person or exporter who knowingly fails to make a report could be fined up to $25,000, imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.  

According to FAS’s Rachel Trego, the reporting discrepancy for rice between the Census and ESR is quite large and varies widely by country, with export sales figures consistently lagging monthly rice export figures reported by Census.  

Year-to-date, exports recorded through the ESR only make up about 83 percent of exports reported by Census.  By country this includes:  77 percent of exports to Mexico, 56 percent to Canada, 48 percent to Costa Rica, 50 percent to Jordan, 90 percent to Haiti, and 43 percent to the UK.  Two hundred twenty thousand metric tons of rice exports apparently went unreported as export sales in just the top five markets from August 2017 to March 2018.

USDA is recommending intensive follow-up to fill in these large gaps in data.

In order to increase accountability, smaller and medium-sized rice exporters are encouraged to register with the ESR program.  If a mill or exporter is unsure whether or not they should be reporting, they can contact the Export Sales Reporting office at (202) 720-9209.

“While Census export figures are the official trade data of the United States, the weekly Export Sales Reports are critical near-time information that the U.S. industry and USDA depend on to make accurate export estimates and to chart the progress of the crop throughout the marketing year,” said Keith Glover, chairman of the USA Rice World Market Price Subcommittee.  “It’s important that all participants in the rice business accurately and promptly report export sales and for sellers to make their customers who may export aware of the requirement.”  

Chris Crutchfield, California miller and World Market Price Subcommittee member, added, “Accurate and timely reporting of export sales is critical to market forecasting.  The rice industry supports the USDA’s commitment to enforcing ESR requirements and will do its part to ensure exporters are aware of and adhere to the guidelines of the program.”