Error in price reports could cost cattlemen millions of dollars

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WASHINGTON – The USDA is scrambling to correct an error in its mandatory price reporting system that went undetected for more than four weeks.

The Agricultural Marketing Service is recalculating the boxed beef cutout values from April 3 through May 11, and primal cut values from April 3 through May 15.

Thousands of contracts and cattle sales rely on the information in the reports, which were stating lower than market value prices for the sales.

The values may have been incorrectly calculated due to a technical error in the system’s computer program.

According to USDA officials, products that were not quality graded, known as “no-roll,” were mistakenly included into prices reported for select and choice box-beef.

The calculations for boxed beef cutout and primal values beginning May 16 are correct.

USDA Secretary Ann Veneman requested a review of the livestock reporting system.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association expressed “outrage” with the USDA’s error in reporting boxed beef cut-out values.

“This mistake questions USDA’s integrity and threatens producer confidence in the marketplace,” said Lynn Cornwell, association president and a Montana cattle producer. He said the mistake could cost producers millions of dollars.

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