During the federal government shutdown, DAT, North America's largest online load-matching service, is publishing free weekly data that parallels the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's Fruit and Vegetable Truckload Rate Report, which has been suspended until funding is restored.

DAT's rates are derived from DAT RateView, a pricing tool that analyzes rates based on more than 90 million spot load and truck listings transacted annually on the DAT Network of load boards.

The resulting report, compiled by DAT pricing analyst Mark Montague, is presented in a PDF format similar to the USDA's original report. DAT will continue publishing the weekly rate report until the USDA re-opens its website and re-starts publication.

Montague said the DAT report is based on spot-market "broker buy" rates that freight brokers pay to carriers in most of the lanes covered by the USDA report. "To bring the rates in line with the 'broker sell' rates of the USDA report, I added in a percentage to represent the commission that the broker would charge to the shipper or consignee who pays the final freight bills," he said.

DAT RateView prices thousands of lanes with current information, while USDA only prices a handful of lanes. For the most part, however, the USDA numbers support RateView's reefer rates as an accurate reflection of the produce market, Montague said.

He cautioned that these are snapshots of data over a time frame, and spot market rates can change quickly with market conditions.

You can download the report for Oct. 4-10 here: http://bit.ly/GLQonD.