USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration published the final report of their Livestock and Meat Marketing Study, which was commissioned by Congress to determine the impact of alternative marketing arrangements (AMA). See "Report On Alternative Marketing Arrangements Released" elsewhere in this week's issue.
The study held few surprises, and confirmed what other studies continue to show. That is that the impact of AMAs is negligible and is likely beneficial to the industry as a whole. Nonetheless, the economic studies continue to be commissioned and the outcry to eliminate any move away from a commodity system will continue.
It's increasingly clear that the upcoming farm bill will be a focal point for those trying to eliminate producer choice in marketing their cattle. Economists and experts have always discounted this movement, believing that the numbers tell the story, but they've missed the point. This movement is against change, and it's about uncertainty and a fundamental belief that someone else is in control of the industry's future.