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Planning ahead

Agriculture.com Staff 12/21/2009 @ 10:04am

In the year ahead, we encourage farmers to take a few minutes and carve out time specifically designed to address marketing needs for 2010.

Set aside time to plan and review 2 key areas of your marketing. First, keep your knowledge base current as to the marketing tools available to you. What tools does your local elevator use, or any others who buy your crops? Will they allow you to forward contract and, if so, how far ahead? Are they offering hedge-to-arrive contracts? These are just two questions that could be critical.

Ask more challenging questions. How many bushels will the elevator be willing to write forward or hedge-to-arrive contracts in total? The blow-up in prices 2 years ago had many elevators shutting down just about all contracting possibilities for producers. If you are not familiar with how futures or options work, take time to get a basic understanding.

Make sure you can rely on someone to give you prudent information. Work with an advisor who not only has your better interest at hand but can guide you through which tools may be best suited for your operation. It is your responsibility to understand how tools work and not take the word of anyone. Ultimately, the buck stops with the decisions you make.

Another area to review is communication. Our experience with farmers has shown that those who are good communicators often manage their business well and are good marketers. However, communication goes well beyond visiting with people who you are comfortable talking with. It is the ability to ask questions that require more critical thinking. Communication is a two-way street.

If you are not getting the proper direction, service or guidance from any of the people in your management circle, then you need to consider whether improvements or changes need to be made. Do not be afraid to voice your concerns or provide an opinion that helps you. Ultimately, this communication will be a win-win for all involved.

Here are our thoughts as we head into 2010. The winter season is a good time to reflect and build on past experiences. In spring, when the sun shines, all attention focuses on getting work done. Often, those who preplan will find marketing more enjoyable and experience a higher level of confidence.

If you have questions or comments, contact Bryan Doherty at Top Farmer, 1-800-TOP-FARM extension 129.

In the year ahead, we encourage farmers to take a few minutes and carve out time specifically designed to address marketing needs for 2010.

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