USDA will publish new daily marketing reports today as part of the mandatory price reporting legislation that Congress passed in 1999.

The program applies to large U.S. packers that slaughter an average of 125,000 cattle, 100,000 hogs or 75,000 lambs annually. This includes about 120 markets, according to Weldon Hall, assistant chief of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service livestock and grain market news.

The reports will begin at 11:00 a.m. (EST). USDA officials say they will begin publishing weekly reports on April 9. The legislation requires three market reports to be published each day, including a previous day’s summary posted at 8:00 a.m. the following day. In all, 90 daily and weekly reports will be published.

Hall told Reuters news service that the number of reports will depend on how many pass the 3/60 guideline, which ensures the confidentiality of the packing plants. The controversial guideline prevents USDA from reporting price data from markets where there are fewer than three firms or where any one packer handles more than 60 percent of the meatpacking in the area.

USDA officials admit there “could be some technical problems” in publishing the first few daily and weekly market reports due to possible kinks in the computer system.

Any plant violating the new rules could face up to $10,000 in fines per violation.

Reuters news source