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The Life of a USDA Market News Reporter

Posted by Alexandra Wright, AMS Market News Reporter in Conservation Food and Nutrition Farming
Feb 12, 2016
USDA Market News reporter Alexandra Wright
Market News reports reach millions of stakeholders every day to ensure that everyone in the ag supply chain have the information they need. Pictured here is Market News reporter Alexandra Wright.

As I walked up to my new USDA office, distracted by the animal noises, I dodged horse-drawn buggies while tiptoeing around cow pies.  Originally from the suburbs of Atlanta, my exposure to livestock was limited.  As a market reporter with USDA Market News, I found that my exposure would significantly increase and fast.

The entire agricultural supply chain turn to USDA Market News – administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – for reliable data that serves as the information lifeline for America’s agricultural economy.  Our reports, with data gathered and distributed by reporters like me, reach millions of stakeholders every day to ensure that everyone in the ag supply chain have the information they need.

As a market news reporter, my typical day starts with attending livestock auctions to record sales prices, classify animals, and talk to buyers and sellers to gather information about daily market activities.  This may mean talking to an Amish farmer about the calf market, and then with a Palestinian buyer about ethnic trades.  Market News reporters across the country capture data for hundreds of products including data on organic products, retail store pricing, and locally and regionally marketed products.  My office reports on a wide range of commodities, and on the largest sale barn east of the Mississippi River.

Getting past the introductory shock, I came to understand and appreciate the vital role USDA Market News plays.  For example, once a sheep producer called from North Carolina to pick my brain about prices, preferred lamb size, and upcoming ethnic holidays.  He came to the next sale marketing lambs he had trucked across state borders.  This was a defining moment for me because this farmer made a business decision based not just on the numbers I report, but also on my commentary and knowledge about the market.  I realized then how much stakeholders rely on USDA Market News.

Market News reports are for anyone to use and allow businesses to make purchasing and buying decisions with the most recent information.  I only know how far and wide these reports reach through chance encounters.  I experienced one of these encounters while substituting for another reporter at a livestock auction in Montana.  I began chatting with a buyer and when he learned I was stationed in Pennsylvania, he knew who I was right away.  I was astonished that the report issued from my office is highly regarded and faithfully viewed by producers 2,000 miles away!

Every day, USDA Market News gives me the opportunity to experience agriculture and the driving forces behind it first-hand.  Before becoming a market reporter, I was unaware of how industries rely on the information released by Market News.  Now, I don’t notice the cow pies and interacting with each producer has become a joy.  But most importantly, this is my job and I am proud to be a trusted source for timely, reliable, unbiased information.