WASHINGTON – The National Pork Producers Council is contesting the US Department of Agriculture’s decision to furlough its Market News Service employees as part of the federal government shutdown.

The Market News Service publishes live hog and pork pricing information. NPPC said the industry considers the Mandatory Price Reporting daily reports essential because the information serves as a reference point for buyers and sellers. But the agency stopped publishing the reports because market news was deemed "non-essential" under the USDA’s shutdown contingency plans.

“NPPC is looking at all available options, including asking the Obama administration to declare Mandatory Price Reporting “essential” since it is mandatory,” said David Warner, director of communications for NPPC. “All participants in the pork industry are exploring options on market information in the absence of mandatory price reporting. The industry continues to function, but the lack of data has created confusion.”

Many meat and poultry firms have turned to private-data providers to fill the void left by the loss of government reports, according to a report by Reuters. However, some private companies are limited in their ability to turn the shutdown to their advantage because they rely on USDA data for their databases.