Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level



Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness


McKenzie, Andrew

Committee Member/Reader

Mitchell, James

Committee Member/Second Reader

Park, Eunchun

Committee Member/Third Reader

Popp, Michael


Whether agriculture is how you make your living or simply a means of putting food on your table, the prices of agricultural commodities and products affect us all. When buying and selling agricultural commodities, both farmers and firms use futures markets. Futures markets help minimize price risk, which is important to both sides of the transaction.

Recently, private analysis firms have started to forecast the information contained in the USDA’s WASDE report. This is relevant because future prices react to new information contained in WASDE reports. These firms will release their information a few days before the WASDE comes out and having access to information about how prices will move can really help a firm become more profitable.

For this thesis, we analyzed if there is a particular firm that is consistently more accurate than the others. To do this, we first ranked the analysts over two-month periods by who had the least amount of surprise (the difference between the analyst’s forecast and what the WASDE released). Next, we ran a Fisher exact test to test for statistically significant dependence between winning (losing) groups in the first period and winning (losing) groups in the second period. We were then able to evaluate these results based on the following hypothesis: there is no dependence between winners (losers) in month 1 and winners (losers) in month 2.

Our results showed that there is no dependence between an analyst being in the “winning” group one month and again being in the winning group the next month. This means that the chance of an analyst to consistently be able to predict the data the USDA releases is pretty slim.


USDA, forecasting, agriculture, commodity, analyst