WASHINGTON – The US Dept. of Agriculture has turned to MARS in an effort to improve its coverage of commodities markets. The Market Analysis & Reporting Services (MARS) system provides real-time market data such as livestock auctions for feeder cattle. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will administer the system.

USDA said the new system “…means a reporter at a livestock auction in, for example, Kansas will know in real time what comparable feeder cattle is selling for at an auction in Texas.” MARS will eventually include market information on more than 600 commodities in real time, where applicable.

The new MARS system is the result of advances in data management, the agency said. USDA expects MARS to improve market transparency and reduce disadvantages that may exist between buyers and sellers. USDA unveiled the MARS system during a recent Agricultural Outlook Forum.

“MARS will improve our services to ensure that farmers and ranchers know they’re getting a fair price, wholesalers make better decisions about what and how much to buy, and commodity traders buy and sell based on current market information,” USDA said.

AMS developed a series of webinars to provide more information on MARS and gather feedback on the public-facing side of the system. The first webinar is scheduled March 24, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Event details are upcoming.