Mr. Bernau stated that his market reporters are trained to obtain the information from their confidential contacts, stating:
"It's like going to the doctor. They know from experience how to make a diagnosis and determine what to report."
When questioned regarding the ability to validate the accuracy of the figures through external means, Mr. Bernau advised that neither the AMS office nor their reporters kept notes or any other reference material, nor would they consult shipment records of any sort.
When we requested this information in writing, Mr. Bernau sent a brief email stating:
"Market News collects data for many agricultural items through conversations with brokers, processors, agents, buyers and sellers by our trained reporters. Market News does not keep internal documents or files representing this information reported on the AL_LS604, New Mexico to Mexico Livestock Exports, other than the official report released to the public on our website."
With no protocols in place and no internal reports kept there is no way to confirm if the information provided every week is accurate. Even more concerning, USDA/AMS is obtaining this information from contacts that clearly have an agenda and an interest in the performance of the horse slaughter industry, such as brokers and sellers. What guarantee is there that they provide accurate data to USDA/AMS when there are no official controls in place?