A 41 percent decline in cattle prices be­­tween 2014 and 2016 created a heightened concern about market volatility. That’s launched more conversations among cattlemen about improving price discovery, an important tool in determining the real value of a market animal.

In Iowa, about 50 to 60 percent of fed cattle are sold through cash negotiations, according to Ed Greiman, a cattle feeder near Garner and a past president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

However, he said, nationally only about 25 percent of the sales are cash negotiated and reported.

"A lot of us are concerned that we’re slipping far enough down that we don’t have enough cash trade to represent enough price discovery, which is the real value of the fed steer or fed heifer," said Greiman, a Hancock County Farm Bureau member.

Lack of cash sales

Though a majority of the ...