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Taking the emotion out of an emotional process

Agriculture.com Staff 02/08/2016 @ 6:23am

What once consisted of endless phone calls and contract-writing has now been condensed into a single online package through which you can carry out grain sales with the click of the mouse button.

This summer, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., is stepping closer to unveiling its MarketPoint Resource, an online corn marketing program that connects Pioneer customer farmers with buyers. It was unveiled this past February and tested by Nebraska Pioneer farmers and buyers since last October and, Pioneer senior marketing manager Joe Foresman says, the same stakeholders should have access to the program by this fall in Iowa.

"It's really marketing with a light on for the farmer. Previously, there was no access to market transparency like this for the farmer," Foresman says. "For buyers, it can increase the amount of grain they buy that is originated from the farm. You really create a win-win with this."

MarketPoint is based on software developed by Jason Tatge, CEO of Farms Technology LLC in Overland Park, Kansas. It's based on a framework in which farmers can input their available bushels, whether Yellow #2 or High Total Fermentable (HTF) corn (Pioneer is planning more MarketPoint options for corn and other crops in the future), then set a target price at which they wish to sell.

On the other side, buyers can find out the farmers within a given geographic proximity to their location and, based on the current market prices, basis levels and transportation costs, make bids for the farmers' available bushels. Tatge says the system makes it possible for farmers and grain buyers make connections that, before the MarketPoint program, would have been next to impossible.

"There are a lot of times when the buyer can get the price he wants and the farmer can sell for the price he wants, but they can't talk to each other at the same time," Tatge says. "This does that for us. And, it takes the emotion out of trading for the farmer."

The MarketPoint program is one of a series of steps Pioneer has planned to streamline the value chain for corn. Once grain buyers like feedlot and ethanol plant managers can better connect with local farmers with grain to sell, the next step is being able to match what the farmers raise more closely to what the buyers need. The QualiTrak program will help this happen.

Based on near-infrared technology developed by Pioneer that helps track ethanol output potential, the QualiTrak program will help ethanol refiners get a clearer picture of the eventual energy value of each bushel of HTF corn. Tracking such information can help the farmer command a higher sales price while helping the ethanol refiner guarantee a higher alcohol output from the purchased corn, Foresman says.

"It measures the fermentability and can show the weighted average of fermentability of delivered corn for individual farmers," he says.

In the future, Pioneer officials say they hope to combine MarketPoint and QualiTrak to yield a system in which farmers, through a more transparent marketplace and access to the HTF and other corn varieties in highest demand, can raise exactly what buyers need and, ultimately, get top-dollar for the grain.

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