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Batting practice now over, let marketing game begin

There's an old saying that even if the Man Upstairs himself guaranteed every farmer what would happen in the market, 90 percent of them would still wait to see if He was right.

If this sums up your marketing strategy, it's a perspective that Richard Brock, one of the nation's leading grain analysts, hopes to change as a featured speaker at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show. The show, sponsored by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association with Delta Farm Press as co-sponsor, will be March 3-4 at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis.

Brock will provide an outlook on the grain markets, specifically in soybeans, including an analysis of the world market situation in grain and oilseeds. He will also discuss developing a marketing plan for producers, including the psychology of decision-making. “We'll also touch on how the energy markets impact the grain markets.”

Brock says one short-term challenge for Mid-South producers “is to do a better job of marketing to offset sharp increases in production costs. Everybody complains about rising costs, but they can be more than offset by good marketing.

“The lack of good marketing skills has evolved because of government programs and crop insurance programs,” Brock said. “The reality is that 30 years ago, farmers were better marketers than they are today. The challenge today is to mesh a good crop insurance program with good marketing.”

Farmers may be drawing on those skills a lot sooner than they think. “It's time for growers to get back in the game because we're discovering that a lot of our support systems are going to be gone.”

Producers do have an edge, according to Brock. “They are privy to a lot of information. But they don't always know what to do with it. Having all the best information is good, but in reality what they need is to know how to make a decision.”

Brock will answer the tough questions for growers such as, “When do I pull the trigger?” and “How do I keep emotions out of the decision-making process?”

“The top 10 percent of farmers have already changed the way they market their crops, while the other 90 percent still do it the old way,” Brock said. “The challenge for change is to take the information you have, develop a strategy and maximize your profits.”

He will speak Saturday morning, March 4, at the 8:30 a.m., Ag Update session in the convention center lobby auditorium.

Also on tap Saturday will be a special energy seminar, to be held at 1:30 p.m. Friday's ag update sessions will include market outlooks for cotton, rice and cash grains.

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