Risk manager offers steps to better market crops, livestock

Mark Gold told farmers attending a Dec. 3 risk management workshop that he could help them better market their livestock and crops in an ever-changing market.

va-farm-bureauGold, who is president, CEO and managing partner of Top Third Ag Marketing and a former member of the Chicago Board of Trade, spoke on “Get What’s Coming to You: Risk Management for Every Farmer.” He conducted the workshop after delivering the keynote address at the 2013 Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in Richmond.

“The average American farmer sells the majority of his crops every year in the bottom third of prices for those crops,” Gold told workshop participants. “We can do better.”

Top Third’s goal is to help its farmer customers market their products in the top third of prices available during a market year. Gold offered workshop participants a multiple-step program for improving the way they market commodities.

The first, and most important step, he said, is devoting time to marketing. “I’m asking you to spend five minutes a day marketing your products; I believe everyone can handle that.”

Gold also advised farmers to quit making excuses and not get emotional when selling commodities. If a good price comes along, he said, don’t just hold out for a better one.

He told workshop participants that if they develop a marketing plan, use self-discipline and track daily market prices they will know the best times to sell or exercise buying options such as a “put.”

A put option is “used to establish a minimum selling price and gives the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to sell a particular futures contract at a specified price at any time during the life of the option,” Gold said.

No matter what happens, they won’t lose any more than the agreed-upon sell price. “Options maximize your opportunities,” Gold said.

He also recommended that farmers not try to speculate on their sales contracts. “Only 7 percent of all outside speculators can beat the pros in Chicago [Board of Trade].”
Finally, he recommended that farmers find a marketing mentor or hire an agricultural marketing firm to assist them.

With 135,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to protecting Virginia’s farms and ensuring a safe, fresh and locally grown food supply.

View more convention news as it becomes available at VaFarmBureau.org/NewsVideo/ConventionNewsroom.aspx.


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