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Forecasting Organic Food Prices: Emerging Methods for Testing and Evaluating Conditional Predictive Ability
Tatiana Gubanova, Luanne Lohr, and Timothy Park
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

Organic farmers, wholesalers, and retailers need price forecasts to improve their decision-making practices. This paper presents a methodology and protocol to select the best performing method from several time and frequency domain candidates. Weekly farmgate prices for organic fresh produce are used. Forecasting methods are evaluated on the basis of an aggregate accuracy measure and several out-of-sample predictive ability tests. A seasonal autoregressive method is recommended for all planning horizons. The role of better price forecasts for the agents who deal in less common organic produce is highlighted. A confirmation for the claim that the organic produce industry needs better farmgate price forecasts to grow is provided.

 
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The Impact of Marketing Strategy Information on the Producerís Selling Decision
Joni M. Klumpp, B. Wade Brorsen, and Kim B. Anderson
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

There is no shortage of studies regarding price forecasting and marketing strategies of producers. However, the majority of these studies take a normative approach, focusing on deriving an optimal strategy for producers to follow based on information received from producer surveys. Due to such things as psychological biases, producers may not actually use the marketing information that they say they do. This study uses actual producer transaction data to determine how producers marketing decisions correspond with those recommended by market advisory services and with those that use futures spreads to calculate expected returns. The results show that producers do respond to using futures spreads to represent expected returns to storage. Also, it appears that Oklahoma producers make marketing decisions opposite of those recommended by market advisory services.

 
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Time-Varying Risk Premium or Informational Inefficiency? Further Evidence in Agricultural Futures Markets
Julieta Frank and Philip Garcia
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

Recent research has provided mixed results regarding the presence of a time-varying risk premium in agricultural futures markets. In this paper we test for the presence of a time-varying risk premium and market efficiency focusing on the properties of the underlying data. Specifically, we examine the same markets and period used by McKenzie and Holt (2002) and extend the analysis through 2004. Our results show that accounting for the structural break in the early seventies plays a key role in the findings. In contrast to McKenzie and Holt, we find no evidence of time-varying risk premium in the four commodities analyzed. The corn market appears to be (weak form) efficient. Hogs, live cattle, and soybean meal futures contracts show evidence of inefficiency, which suggests an inability of these markets to incorporate all available information in the futures prices. Our results identify the importance of careful examination of the data as failure to do so can lead to inappropriate conclusions.

 
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Sorting Cattle with Accumulated Data: What is the Accuracy and Economics
Maro A. Ibarburu and John D. Lawrence
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

Increasingly feedlots are managing cattle as individual animals rather than on a pen level basis. As such it is possible to predict an optimal marketing date for each animal. This analysis evaluates the keep-or-sell decision at reimplant time for feedlots cattle approximately 80 days prior to the expected marketing date for the entire group. A model predicting the least profitable cattle in the pen was developed using individual animal data representing over 14,000 cattle fed in 12 Iowa feedlots. It was tested out of sample on an additional 5,000 head to determine the optimal cull rate at reimplant time. The expected profit of sorting and reselling the least profitable cattle was calculated for two different levels of imperfect information and were contrasted against each other as well expost profit. The analysis concludes that there is a potential advantage of predicting the least profitable animals in a pen and re-sell them as heavyfeeder-cattle. It also shows that individual animal identification and management provides additional information and accuracy to apply this practice.

 
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Portfolio Diversification with Commodity Futures: Properties of Levered Futures
Thorsten M. Egelkraut, Joshua D. Woodard, Philip Garcia, and Joost M. E. Penningsa
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

This study extends previous work on the impact of commodity futures on portfolio performance by explicitly incorporating levered futures into the portfolio optimization problem. Using data on nine individual commodity futures and one aggregate index from 1994-2003, we find that collateralized and levered futures strategies perform similarly in an ex-post context. Significant differences between the approaches emerge however when constraints on investment behavior exist. Further, levered futures do not result in a prohibitive number of margin calls. The investment performances of the collateralized and the levered strategies vary little across different rebalancing intervals, and frequent portfolio rebalancing does not necessarily result in superior performance.

 
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Forecasting Livestock Feed Cost Risks Using Futures and Options
Gang Chen, Matthew C. Roberts, and Brian Roe
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

The costs of corn- and soybean-based feeds compose a substantial proportion of the variable costs faced by both mainstream and emergent confined livestock producers. This research develops a method to provide a joint distribution of prices of corn and soybean meal at a future time. Black's 1976 option model and stochastic volatility jump diffusion (SVJD) model are compared in volatility forecasting performance. In general, SVJD is superior to Black's model, though their performance is both commodity-specific and forecasting horizon specific.

 
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Hedging Cash Flows from Commodity Processing
Roger A. Dahlgran
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

Agribusinesses make long-term plant-investment decisions based on discounted cash flow. It is therefore incongruous for an agribusiness firm to use cash flow as a plant-investment criterion and then to completely discard cash flow in favor of batch profits as an operating objective. This paper assumes that cash flow and its stability is important to commodity processors and examines methods for hedging cash flows under continuous processing. Its objectives are (a) to determine how standard hedging models should be modified to hedge cash flows, (b) to outline the differences between cash flow hedging and profit hedging, and (c) to determine the effectiveness of hedging in reducing cash flow variability. A cash flow hedging methodology is developed. This methodology is similar to that used for batch profit hedging. This methodology balances the daily cash flow destabilizing effect of futures positions against the periodic cash flow destabilizing effect of cash price changes. The resulting cash flow hedges are simulated for soybean processors. These hedges are less effective than batch profit hedging. The reduction in cash flow variance achieved through hedging, though small, is nonetheless statistically significant.

 
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Effects of Price Volatility and Surging South American Soybean Production on Short-Run Soybean Basis Dynamics
Rui Zhang and Jack Houston
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

This study investigates the effects of South American production (SAP) and futures volatility on the soybean price dynamics in terms of their effects on the basis. The results of the econometric model showed that both South American production and futures volatility of the nearby contract have negative effects on the basis though in the forecast model, lagged values of these two factors failed to predict basis change in the future. If information about the change of the expected SAP or futures volatility is available, then the model can predict the changes in basis. This information would be helpful for hedgers to decide the time to lift their hedge.

 
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A Reality Check on Technical Trading Rule Profits in US Futures Markets
Cheol-Ho Park and Scott H. Irwin
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

This paper investigates the profitability of technical trading rules in US futures markets over the 1985-2004 period. To account for data snooping biases, we evaluate statistical significance of performance across technical trading rules using Whiteís Bootstrap Reality Check test and Hansenís Superior Predictive Ability test. These methods directly quantify the effect of data snooping by testing the performance of the best rule in the context of the full universe of technical trading rules. Results show that the best rules generate statistically significant economic profits only for two of 17 futures contracts traded in the US. This evidence indicates that technical trading rules generally have not been profitable in US futures markets after correcting for data snooping biases.

 
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Relaxing Standard Hedging Assumptions in the Presence of Downside Risk
Fabio Mattos, Philip Garcia, and Carl Nelson
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to analyze how the introduction of a downside risk measure and less restrictive assumptions can change the optimal hedge ratio in the standard hedging problem. Based on a dataset of futures and cash prices for soybeans in the U.S., the empirical findings indicate that optimal hedge ratios change dramatically when a one-sided risk measure is adopted and standard assumptions are relaxed. Further, the results suggest that in a downside risk framework with realistic hedging assumptions there is little or no incentive for farmers to hedge.

 
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Factors Influencing the Extent of Grid Pricing of Fed Cattle
Clement E. Ward
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

Motives for grid pricing of fed cattle have been identified in previous research. Also, estimates of grid pricing exist from feedlot surveys and data generated via mandatory price reports since 2001. However, no research has attempted to estimate factors influencing the extent of grid pricing by cattle feeders. Cattle feedlot respondents to a survey primarily in Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, and Texas reported a wide range of grid pricing use in 2003. Two groups of feedlot respondents were created; those using grid pricing for half or less of their fed cattle marketings in 2003 and those using grid pricing for more than half of their marketings. Ordinary least squares and ordered logit models were estimated to determine factors affecting grid pricing use for the two comparison groups. For many potential factors influencing grid pricing, no significant differences were found between groups. The two most robust factors were the percent of fed cattle sold to the largest buyer and the percent of fed cattle marketed with some type of agreement, contract, or through an alliance or cooperative. Other significant factors related to market conditions and expected carcass performance of the cattle. However, results were neither consistent nor strong enough to explain the sharp drop in formula pricing fed cattle during the third year following implementation of mandatory price reporting.

 
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The Value of Carcass Characteristic EPDs in Bred Heifer Price
Joe L. Parcell, Kevin C. Dhuyvetter, David J. Patterson, and Richard Randle
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

This study used hedonic modeling to assess the marginal implicit value of bred heifer characteristics and of carcass characteristic expected progeny differences of bred heifer calves. Using data for 692 pens of Show-Me Replacement Heifers Inc. heifers marketed over the 2001 through 2004 period, we find heavier heifers are priced higher than lighter heifers, artificially inseminated heifer pens were premium priced, Angus animals received a premium, pens that are expected to calve at optimal period of the year and within a 30-day window received premiums, calf performance EPD birth weight was positive, only marbling carcass characteristic EPD was positive and significant, buyers prefer larger lots to smaller lots, buyers pay the highest price for lots sold during the mid-point of the sale, and buyers pay a higher price for a pen bred to the same sire. It may be that certain post-weaning carcass characteristics are not of value to buyers because they either sell at weaning or due to the co-mingling of cattle certain expected production capabilities are of little value.

 
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Supply Effects on Price Discovery and Pricing Choice for Fed Cattle
Clement E. Ward
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

Price discovery research related to fed cattle has involved data covering a relatively small portion of the longer cattle cycle. Thus, research has not explicitly addressed the impacts alternative supply conditions have on price discovery. Additionally, little research has addressed the pricing choices for fed cattle marketing or procurement. In research reported here using data from an experimental market, the Fed Cattle Market Simulator, models were estimated that encompassed live weight, dressed weight, and grid pricing under alternative supply scenarios, specifically a larger supply and smaller supply period. Variables explaining fed cattle price variation differed somewhat between the two supply periods. For the two periods combined, results were nearly as theoretically expected. One consistent finding was that higher quality fed cattle marketed with a grid brought higher prices in both supply periods. Similarly, some differences were noted in the pricing choice model between the two periods and the combined periods. Another consistent finding was that having lower quality cattle to market increased the probability of marketing them on a live weight basis. Higher quality cattle were more apt to be marketed with a grid.

 
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Price Discovery in Private Cash Forward Markets - The Case of Lumber
Mark R. Manfredo and Dwight R. Sanders
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

Cash forward contracting is a common, and often preferred, means of managing price risk for agribusinesses. Despite this, little is known about the performance of cash forward markets, in particular the role they play in price discovery. The lumber market provides a unique case for examining this issue. The Bloch Lumber Company maintains an active cash forward market for many lumber products, and publishes benchmark forward prices on their website and disseminates these prices to data vendors. Focusing on 2x4 random lengths lumber and 7/16 oriented strand board, this research examines the lead-lag relationships between the three-month forward prices published by Bloch Lumber and representative spot prices. Results suggest that at least for 2x4 random lengths lumber, the forward prices published by Bloch Lumber lead the spot price. However, spot prices do not lead the forward prices for 2x4 random lengths lumber, but do for oriented strand board. While these results suggest that the Bloch Lumber forward cash prices are contributing to price discovery, the dominant market for price discovery may be an existing spot or futures market.

 
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Intermediate Volatility Forecasts Using Implied Forward Volatility: The Performance of Selected Agricultural Commodity Options
Thorsten M. Egelkraut and Philip Garcia
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

Options with different maturities can be used to generate an implied forward volatility, a volatility forecast for non-overlapping future time intervals. Using five commodities with varying characteristics, we find that the implied forward volatility dominates forecasts based on historical volatility information, but that the predictive accuracy is affected by the commodityís characteristics. Unbiased and efficient corn and soybeans market forecasts are attributable to the well-established volatility during crucial growing periods. For soybean meal, wheat, and hogs volatility is less predictable, and investors appear to demand a risk premium for bearing volatility risk.

 
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A Test of Forecast Consistency Using USDA Livestock Price Forecasts
Dwight R. Sanders and Mark R. Manfredo
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

In traditional tests of forecast rationality, price forecasts are usually differenced to obtain stationarity. However, this data transformation may ignore important long-run information contained in forecasted price levels. Here, the concept of forecast consistency is paired with rationality concepts used in the market efficiency literature to develop a sequential testing procedure for forecast consistency and rationality. USDA quarterly livestock price forecasts do not demonstrate long-run consistency.

 
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The Value of USDA Situation and Outlook Information in Hog and Cattle Markets
Olga Isengildina, Scott H. Irwin, and Darrel L. Good
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

The economic value of public situation and outlook information has long been a subject of debate. The purpose of this study is to investigate the economic value of USDA reports in hog and cattle markets. The investigation is based on event study analysis, with the "events" consisting of the release of six major USDA situation and outlook reports for hogs and cattle from 1985 through 2003. These include Cattle, Cattle on Feed, Cold Storage, Hogs and Pigs, Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook (LDPO), and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) reports. As a result of the process of modeling volatility of hog and cattle prices, a TARCH-in-mean model was specified that closely followed the distribution of these price movements. The effects of external information were evaluated within this model using dummy variables in the variance equation. The analysis revealed a statistically significant impact of all but Cattle and Cold Storage reports on live/lean hog returns and all but LDPO reports on live cattle returns. Hogs and Pigs reports had the highest impact on live/lean hog returns by increasing average conditional standard deviation by 118.6% following the release of these reports. Cattle and Hogs and Pigs reports had the highest impact on live cattle returns by increasing average conditional standard deviation in both cases 44.8%. These results suggest that the information contained in USDA situation and outlook reports provides economically valuable information to livestock market participants.

 
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Style and Performance of Agricultural Market Advisory Services
Silvina M. Cabrini, Scott H. Irwin, and Darrel L. Good
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

This paper describes the degree of marketing activeness of market advisory programs for corn and soybeans, and analyzes the relationship between activeness degree and pricing performance. The data set employed consists of advisory programs tracked by the AgMAS Project at the University of Illinois between 1995 and 2001. Cluster analysis was conducted to group the programs according to their degree of activeness. Panel data regression models were estimated to evaluate the relationship between activeness degree and pricing performance. In the corn market, point estimates indicate a positive effect of the degree of activeness on pricing performance, but this effect is of small magnitude and statistically insignificant. For soybeans,there is a stronger positive relationship between activeness degree and performance, with an estimated effect of activeness on performance larger in magnitude and statistically significant. This positive relationship suggests that active marketing programs are based on superior information and/or analytical skills.

 
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Wheat Forward Contract Pricing: Evidence on Forecast Power and Risk Premia
Wei Shi, Scott H. Irwin, Darrel L. Good, and Sarah N. Dietz
Year: 2005
 

Abstract

While the risk premium hypothesis in futures markets has been the subject of a long and continuous controversy, the risk premium hypothesis in forward markets is also of interest among economists. The hypothesis is supported by some theoretical arguments and empirical evidence yet remains an open question. We in this study apply a two-equation regression model similar to those used in (Fama and French (1987} and de Roon et al. (1998) to analyze the risk premiums in forward markets, particularly, using the pre-harvest wheat forward markets in Illinois (1982-2004) and Kansas (1990-2004) as an example. The two-equation regression model consists of a forecasting equation, which uses a forward basis during a pre-harvest period to forecast the spot basis at the following harvest period, and a risk premium equation, which uses the forward basis to predict the risk premium to be realized at the harvest. The empirical results show that, first, the average realized risk premiums for Illinois fluctuate around a level during the entirety of a pre-harvest period, while the risk premiums for Kansas show a slight downward trend as time approaches the harvest. The average realized risk premiums are generally positive and bigger for Illinois than for Kansas, but all mean risk premiums are within one units of their corresponding standard deviations. Second, the pre-harvest forward bases have reliable forecasting power for the spot harvest bases and contain information regarding the risk premiums, which strongly recommend estimating risk premiums conditional on forward bases.

 
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