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Grader Bias in Cattle Markets? Evidence from Iowa

  • Brent Hueth
  • John D. Lawrence
  • Philippe Marcoul

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 there have been recent changes in 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, and this paper empirically examines whether such claim is supported in a sample of loads delivered to three different Iowa packing plants during the years 2000-02.

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Paper provided by Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University in its series Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications with number 04-wp355.

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Date of creation: Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ias:cpaper:04-wp355
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Hueth, Brent & Lawrence, John D., 2003. "Information Transmission in Cattle Markets: A Case Study of the Chariton Valley Beef Alliance," 2003 Annual meeting, July 27-30, Montreal, Canada 21989, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  7. Vuong, Quang H, 1989. "Likelihood Ratio Tests for Model Selection and Non-nested Hypotheses," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 307-33, March.
  8. Stéphan Marette & John Crespi, 2003. "Can Quality Certification Lead to Stable Cartels?," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 43-64, August.
  9. Luis Garicano & Ignacio Palacios & Canice Prendergast, 2001. "Favoritism Under Social Pressure," NBER Working Papers 8376, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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).
  11. Hennessy, David A., 1995. "Microeconomics of Agricultural Grading: Impacts on the Marketing Channel," Staff General Research Papers 5033, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
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