Whether you’re a cattle producer, a pork processor or a lamb feeder, reliable and timely market information is key to navigating the agricultural marketplace, according to Michael Lynch, director of Livestock, Poultry & Grain Market News for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS).
A component of Market News is the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) Program, which provides transparent price and volume data for cattle, swine, sheep, boxed beef, lamb and wholesale pork. This program must be reauthorized by Congress every five years and is up for reauthorization in 2020.
To help inform the next reauthorization, Lynch said AMS brought together a diverse group of stakeholders in a series of meetings to study the marketing methods and current challenges with reporting in the livestock and meat markets.
“Through an open forum, we identified – and, in many cases, implemented – recommendations to strengthen the program and provide the livestock and meat industry with more robust market data,” he explained.
Working with the cattle industry, the group developed a new "Weekly Fed Cattle Comprehensive Report" that combines all purchase information into a weekly price series.
“The cattle industry has seen a significant shift from negotiated transactions to alternative marketing arrangements. This report reflects this trend by providing stakeholders a more complete picture of the cattle market in one convenient report,” Lynch said.
Based on pork producers’ input and feedback from the swine industry as a whole, the group developed new reporting guidance to enhance the transparency of the purchase type categories published on swine reports. AMS also expanded swine premium price reporting and enhanced the pork cutout to better reflect current industry practices and trends.
To provide the lamb industry with more data, AMS enhanced the "National Weekly Slaughter Sheep Review Report," making it possible to publish formula purchase price information more frequently.
“This change alone gave lamb producers access to Livestock Risk Protection insurance that utilizes the weekly formula information to determine coverage amounts,” Lynch said, adding that AMS also added a new comprehensive section to the report and later enhanced the report to include cooperative member transactions in the appropriate purchase type categories.
Lynch reported that stakeholders also suggested a small number of legislative and regulatory changes to the program and for Congress to consider. “Information gathered from these meetings is the basis for the report to Congress, and USDA looks forward to continuing to improve LMR to meet the needs of all stakeholders,” he said.
All of the improvements from USDA Market News are just one way USDA is changing to be the most effective, efficient and customer-focused department in the federal government, Lynch said.