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Abstract

There has been reduced government support and funding for market news and other information services in agricultural markets. This research examines the effect on the level of variability of cash fed cattle prices from reducing public information on price reporting. This information is provided by USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. The research also examines the effect of less information on marketing efficiency. The impact of reduced market information is measured with an experimental economics tool: The Fed Cattle Market Simulator. Results suggest removal, or reduction, in USDA-AMS information will fundamentally change the price discovery process. Participants rely more on futures and less on boxed beef to help discover cash cattle prices. There was an inconclusive change in mean transaction price -- favoring neither meatpackers or feedlots -- but an increase in transaction price variability. There was also greater mean-level dispersion in transaction prices across firms. Price discovery is less efficient. There is also a reduction in marketing efficiency. Cattle are marketed at high-cost weights. The experiment suggests there is a net loss to society, not just market participants, from reduced public price reporting information.

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