For years, California cattle ranchers suspected that buyers offer them lower prices than for similar cattle in the Midwest. A large study from the University of CaliforniaDavis indicates they were correct.

The researchers analyzed 11 years of data from video auction sales across the western United States, and found that ranchers in California receive lower prices compared to prices received by ranchers in the Midwest. In fact, the data indicate the discounts on feeder cattle increase the further west the cattle are sold. The primary reason, the researchers say, is that buyers factor in higher transportation costs as they purchase cattle further from feedlot, slaughter and packaging facilities, largely located in the Midwest.

The researchers also note that some, but not all, “value-adding” production and marketing practices raise prices received by ranchers. In their research report, they list the average amount of location discounts and quality premiums for several market regions.

Read the full report on the UC-Davis Web site.