Dr. Pangloss as an Agricultural Economist: The Analytic Failures of THE U.S. BEEF SUPPLY CHAIN: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES

14 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2022

See all articles by Peter Carstensen

Peter Carstensen

University of Wisconsin Law School; American Antitrust Institute

Date Written: March 3, 2022

Abstract

In June of 2021, a group of agricultural economists delivered a set of papers concerning the market for beef cattle. This project undertaken at the request of the House Agriculture Committee and paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture was intended to address the major marketing issues facing cattle feeders. The resulting publication, The U.S. Beef Supply Chain: Issues and Challenges, is basically a defense of the current system of marketing cattle despite the manifest problems and adverse impacts on many feeders. This review points out the circularity of the claims that the current methods are the best possible. It also shows that the authors failed to consider the incentives of the large meat packers to distort the buying process, nor did they evaluate options that might preserve the purported advantages of some of the buying strategies to achieve greater differentiation of quality while constraining market power of the packers. The result is a classic example of Panglossian reasoning: “This is the best of all possible worlds.”

Keywords: Supply Chain, Beef Cattle, Agricultural, Economics, Cattle Feeders, Meat Packers, Buying Strategies, Beef Markets, House Agricultural Committee, US Beef Supply Chain

Suggested Citation

Carstensen, Peter C., Dr. Pangloss as an Agricultural Economist: The Analytic Failures of THE U.S. BEEF SUPPLY CHAIN: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES (March 3, 2022). Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1741, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4049230 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4049230

Peter C. Carstensen (Contact Author)

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