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Greedy or gunshy?

Agriculture.com Staff 08/24/2007 @ 2:03pm

Some say they're too greedy, while some say they may talk a big line, but this gusto turns to caution when it comes time to pull the trigger.

What's your marketing style? Farmers attending the Agriculture Online Marketing Talk Meeting Thursday in West Des Moines, Iowa, took stock of their own marketing chops and dissected the factors that will be driving their marketing in the coming months and years.

For Paul Gude of Atlantic, Iowa, marketing his crop means being a little greedy. But, when it comes to selling his grain, the usual negative connotations to the term "greed" aren't part of his philosophy. To him, it's more about acting on a feeling and capitalizing on when he feels it's the right time.

"I tend to take a little more chances at times," says Gude, who farms in addition to his position in a local bank, which he attributes for his more risk-friendly approach. "I think a little greed is good sometimes. But, it doesn't mean you risk the whole basket. I market more from a gut feeling.

"I have a terrible time telling when to sell on my way down and I find it easy on the way up."

Gude adds he has already sold just a small fraction of this year's crop, and feels the market is poised for another rise in coming months.

John Pfaffinger, a south-central Minnesota farmer, takes a more measured approach, often erring on the side of caution. He has found soybean options of particular value in the past, but for a reason other than that for which they're primarily used.

"I always to buy soybean options in the spring. It gives me the courage to sell the crop during one of these rallies, because I alawys have those call options," Pfaffinger says. "Very seldom do I make any on them because I didn't buy them to sell and make 50 cents a bushel. I got them to give me the courage to sell my crop. In the past, it's worked fine."

Looking ahead, Pfaffinger says much of his marketing plans in the future will depend on the crop's size this fall and in coming years. And a lot remains to be seen as to the size of both the corn and soybean crops in the next few years, as well as a shifting demand picture worldwide.

"I'm bullish again, and I need to start listening to myself. I have got a pretty good feeling that we could have a similar type of market this winter that we had last year," he says. "Looking at the whole world situation, I don't think demand is going to end really soon. We could raise a good crop next year. I think we have another two years of what we've been looking at the last few months.

"We need to plant five million soybean acres more to sell what we need on supply and demand sheets. Will we get them from corn? Wheat? With the added demand of the ethanol plants, we sure can't lose any corn acres."

Any marketing plan can work for any farmer, given a few necessary traits, according to Ray Jenkins, senior grain merchandiser for Cargill in Eddyville, Iowa. Primarily, Jenkins says, it's about matching your personality up with a fitting marketing plan and having the discipline to carry it through.

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