The National Pork Producers Council wrote a letter to USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins, expressing a list of concerns and recommendations for improving the mandatory price reporting.

USDA Secretary Ann Veneman recently appointed Collins to head up a major review system in an effort to eliminate future problems. The team will review how the system has performed to date, identify the consequences of breakdowns to industry and make action recommendations to Veneman.

NPPC President Barb Determan stated that NPPC still strongly supports mandatory price reporting, but believes AMS must get the system glitches fixed immediately or face calls to return to voluntary reporting. Here are the five critical issues NPPC addressed:

1. Confidentiality. The most troubling aspect of the current mandatory price reporting system is the so-called 3/60 rule that prevents reports being published.

2. Reporting All Prices. NPPC officials understand that AMS is screening the data and removing extreme high and low hog prices from the published reports. NPPC officials believe all data should be reported with the exception of outliers determined by a pre-specified, objective, statistical procedure.

3. Data Accuracy. Given the recent problems with boxed beef reporting NPPC officials ask that AMS double-check the accuracy of all computer programs and other computation and data manipulation systems to prevent a similar costly hog market-reporting error.

4. Compliance Staff. NPPC officials understand that a number of compliance staff positions in AMS have been authorized but that no progress has been made on filling these positions.

5. Education. AMS and the industry should immediately conduct an educational outreach to the nation’s farm broadcasters and agricultural media to better acquaint them with the current mandatory price reporting system and reports.