Cattle Markets


Price Transparency and Discovery in Live Cattle Markets: Is There a Role for Regulation?

A virtual workshop sponsored by the
Montana State UniversityInitiative for Regulation and Applied Economic Analysis (IRAEA) 
April 7, 2021


The cattle/beef industry is the largest United States food sector. Approximately 25 million head of fed cattle are processed annually in the U.S. Many segments of the beef cattle industry have raised concerns that the live cattle negotiated market has become too thin. The percentage of live cattle procured through direct negotiations has declined to about 15 percent, while the percentage procured through formulas has increased to almost 70 percent. Most of these formulas are based on negotiated cattle prices. 

Congressional legislation has been introduced which, if passed, will mandate that a minimum percentage of live cattle be procured through a direct negotiation process. 

This workshop brought together a small group of experts and stakeholders that will evaluate the relative benefits and costs of proposed market interventions and offer alternatives.


Featured Presenters:    


Dr. Stephen Koontz is a Professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University. His fields of research are focused on commercial commodity agricultural markets of significance in Colorado. His research examines market and price analysis tools, forecasting and modeling methods, and linkage of those tools with agribusiness and risk management. Most recent projects have involved examining the impact of alternative marketing methods used in livestock industries on the performance of cash markets, examining alternative trading and ownership institutions in experimental economic markets, the impact of ethanol demand on corn and other commodity markets, the economic value of sorting fed cattle, and the economics of animal disease control and insurance.


Dr. Gary Brester is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University and a Distinguished Visiting Research Scholar with the MSU Initiative for Regulation and Applied Economic Analysis. He was raised on an irrigated sugar beet and malting barley farm near Laurel, MT. He had been a faculty member at Kansas State University (7 years) and at Montana State University (22 years).  His primary research areas include the economics of the cattle and grain industries, technological innovations, agricultural policy, international trade, financial regulation, and production agriculture issues. He is also an adjunct professor at the California Polytechnic State University’s College of Business. His annual beef consumption is three times the national average – as is his golf handicap.


Dr. Ted Schroeder is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Director for the Center for Risk Management Education and Research at Kansas State University. Schroeder’s research on livestock marketing and price analysis provides information and direction for the livestock and grain industries. His research focuses on improving commodity market efficiency by investigating price discovery methods, improving market coordinating mechanisms, and applied risk management. Schroeder also teaches courses in marketing and risk management.


  • Brett Crosby, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Board Member
  • Eric Moore, Solaris Feeders LLC
  • Jim Steinbeisser, Montana Stockgrowers Association President
  • Jim Fryer, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Marketing Committee Chair 
  • Dan Mercer, STX Beef

Workshop Schedule: 2:00-4:00 p.m. MDT

    • Welcome and Overview: Eric Belasco, MSU IRAEA 
    • Stephen Koontz "Is There a Relationship Between the Volume of Cash Trade and Depth of Price Discovery?”
    • Gary Brester: "Adding Weight to a Thinning Live Cattle Market"
    • Ted Schroeder: "Marketing Agreements / Negotiated Cash: Unbalancing Tradeoff"
    • Panel Discussion:
    • Questions & Answers Session: Eric Belasco, MSU IRAEA


For additional information, contact Gary Brester or call 406-994-7883.