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Livestock Market Reporting: USDA Has Taken Some Steps to Ensure Quality, but Additional Efforts Are Needed

The US Department of Agriculture’s market news reports are helpful to meatpackers as well as livestock owners in the negotiation of prices for their products. The reports are distributed daily, weekly, and monthly.
In 1999, the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act was passed to increase the volume of industry sales transactions covered by those reports, and encouraged competition in the meat industry.

The Government Accountability Office found that the USDA has not reported every single transaction that occurred. By neglecting to do so, “average” prices in the reports may have been inaccurate, thereby altering the perception of the pricing for anyone using the reports to make bids on products.
The GAO also found that meatpacker’s transactions were not accurately reported, unsupported by documentation, or omitted from packers’ reports.
In addition, coordination between the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) was found to be limited, due to the legalities under which each group operates.

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