There's been a lot of talk about price-structure changes in the feeder, fed and even wholesale beef markets. So it's probably not surprising these differences are showing up in the bull and replacement female market this fall, at an unprecedented level.

A $2,500 average in a bull sale used to mean the bulk of the bulls sold in a range something like $1,800-$4,200, with the bulk selling between $2,200 and $2,500. Today, a $3,500 average, more often than not, means very few bulls sold between $3,000-$4,000, but rather they were either $5,000-$6,500 bulls or $1,500-$3,000 bulls.

This fall, we've seen $500 price differences between bred females in the same class on a daily business in sale barns across the country. While bred heifers might average $1,150, it likely means they sold for a $1,000 or $1,400, with not too many right at the average.

The message is quality matters like never before. As in other phases of the business, buyers are doing a much better job of assessing value. It has to be only a matter of time before the banking industry begins to adjust to these changes as well, with more sophisticated and complex means of assessing inventory values.

The days of assigning the same value to a producer's inventory that consistently sells 10¢ back of the market, as the producer who consistently sells 10¢ over the market, are numbered. Expect to have to provide much more historical and documented information on your marketing revenues rather than simple inventory numbers, or be relegated to accepting the least common denominator.