USDA still fumbling with price reporting

WASHINGTON – The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s mandatory price reporting system continued its struggles in recent weeks to provide complete and accurate price information.

Since the implementation of mandatory price reporting April 3, many AMS reports have had data missing as a result of the so-called 3/60 rule.

The 3/60 rule requires that information only be published if it is obtained from no fewer than three companies, and that information from any one packer does not represent more than 60 percent of the information to be published.

This rule is designed to ensure that proprietary data is not released to the public.

On May 14, AMS discovered a technical error in the computer program for the livestock mandatory price reporting system. Livestock markets were shocked by revelations that the errors had understated prices of boxed beef since the beginning of April.

Choice and Select boxed beef cutout and primal cut values reported since May 16 have been correct.

Internal review.

An independent internal team is reviewing the entire price reporting program to ensure the accuracy of future reports and to assess the consequences of the misreporting of the boxed beef cutout values.

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