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Grader Bias In Cattle Markets? Evidence From Iowa

  • Marcoul, Philippe
  • Lawrence, John D.
  • Hueth, Brent

Participants in U.S. markets for live cattle increasingly rely on federal grading standards to price slaughtered animals. This change is due to the growing prominence of "grid" pricing mechanisms that specify explicit premiums and discounts contingent on an animal's graded quality class. Although these changes alter the way cattle are priced, the technology for sorting animals into quality classes has changed very little: human graders visually inspect each slaughtered carcass and call a "quality" and "yield" grade in a matter of seconds as the carcass passes on a moving trolley. There is anecdotal evidence of systematic bias in these called grades across time and regions within U.S. markets. We examine whether such claims are supported in a sample of loads delivered to three different midwestern packing plants during the years 2000-2002. Overall, results indicate that indeed there is a bias, and that grading standards vary significantly across years and packing plants. Results also are consistent with a behavioral model where grader accuracy is inversely related to carcass quality.

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Paper provided by American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association) in its series 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA with number 21123.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea06:21123
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  1. Stéphan Marette & John Crespi, 2003. "Can Quality Certification Lead to Stable Cartels?," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 43-64, August.
  2. Hueth, Brent & Lawrence, John D., 2006. "Information Transmission in Cattle Markets: A Case Study of the Chariton Valley Beef Alliance," Journal of Agribusiness, Agricultural Economics Association of Georgia, vol. 24(1).
  3. James A. Chalfant & Richard J. Sexton, 2002. "Marketing Orders, Grading Errors, and Price Discrimination," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(1), pages 53-66.
  4. Hennessy, David A., 1995. "Microeconomics of Agricultural Grading: Impacts on the Marketing Channel," Staff General Research Papers 5033, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  5. Espinosa, Juan Andres & Goodwin, Barry K., 1991. "Hedonic Price Estimation For Kansas Wheat Characteristics," Western Journal of Agricultural Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 16(01), July.
  6. Luis Garicano & Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Canice Prendergast, 2005. "Favoritism Under Social Pressure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 208-216, May.
  7. Chalfant, James A. & James, Jennifer S. & Lavoie, Nathalie & Sexton, Richard J., 1999. "Asymmetric Grading Error And Adverse Selection: Lemons In The California Prune Industry," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 24(01), July.
  8. Diaz, Edgar F. Pebe & Brorsen, B. Wade & Anderson, Kim B. & Richter, Francisca G.-C. & Kenkel, Philip L., 2002. "The Effect Of Rounding On The Probability Distribution Of Regrading In The U.S. Peanut Industry," Journal of Agribusiness, Agricultural Economics Association of Georgia, vol. 20(1).
  9. Freebairn, John W., 1973. "The Value Of Information Provided By A Uniform Grading System," Australian Journal of Agricultural Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 17(02), August.
  10. Vuong, Quang H, 1989. "Likelihood Ratio Tests for Model Selection and Non-nested Hypotheses," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 307-33, March.
  11. Sylvette Monier-Dilhan & Hervé Ossard, 1999. "Pleasures of Cockaigne: Quality Gaps, Market Structure, and the Amount of Grading," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(3), pages 501-511.
  12. Bruce Gardner, 2003. "U.S. Food Quality Standards: Fix for Market Failure or Costly Anachronism?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(3), pages 725-730.
  13. McDonald, R. Allen & Schroeder, Ted C., 2003. "Fed Cattle Profit Determinants Under Grid Pricing," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 35(01), April.
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