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Market your buns off

 (Editor’s note: If you
read on long enough you’ll find there are courses coming up.)

I don’t know why the world doesn’t leave the poor farmer
alone to grow his crops, and forget all this nonsense about marketing. How
important is that?

But there seems to be this ongoing persistence to “learn
about marketing”. I don’t know why farmers just don’t say “this is what I want

for my crop this year – so pay me.” 
That’s what Safeway, Boston Pizza and the World of Liquor does. It is so
much simpler.

I am starting to sound like my late father-in-law with his
history lessons of 1935, but I remember probably 15 or 20 years ago talking
with Lee Melvill, then an Alberta Agriculture marketing specialist, and he was
trying to explain to me the wonderful world of Futures and Hedging.

I was confused, and I am still confused. “So you sign a
contract now, based on a price for next November, but you don’t really have to
deliver the crop then or take that price, or you don’t even have to grow the
crop, you can buy corn instead, and then just run away to Cuba with the
money….” Something like that as I recall.

And believe me I’ve had it explained to me many times. I
even took a two or three day course called GrainSim with some real producers
and I remember we had some great lunches, but beyond that it is a bit vague.

Errol Anderson, author of the Wealthy Farmer, has tried to
explain it to me, Paul Cassidy, of Mitcon Ltd.; Neil Blue of Alberta
Agriculture; Dan Hawkins of FarmLink; Remi Schmaltz of Know Risk farm
management; Shelley Wetmore, Market Master Ltd.; Gary Pike, Pike Management
Group; Gord Mitchell of Mitchell Grain Company; Merv Berscheid of CGF
Brokerage; Mike Millar, DTN; Reid Fenton and James Holm of BLB Grain Group;
Derek Squair and Jennifer Gutfriend of Agri-Trend; and William Klok, no, wait
William is a hoof trimmer, but I am sure he tried to tell me something about
marketing.  Needless to say I’ve
heard the marketing message many times and from the best, but something still
doesn’t connect.

Man, give me a story on a new gate latch and I’m excited.
“Okay, so you staple one end of the wire to the top of this stationery post and
then wrap it around the top of the post of the new gate, tie if off, and you
have your latch…” I got it, I’m good. But I still can’t figure out who is the
guy who owns this Future’s business who is paying you more next November for a
crop you haven’t even grown yet, and doesn’t even want delivery. Where was this
guy when I was trying to unload my Bre-X Mineral shares?

I don’t think Lee Mevill can be very good at what he does,
because I heard him speak at a conference not long ago and he’s still trying to
explain the same thing as he did 20 years ago.

Know your cost of production. Don’t get greedy. Plan your
marketing to be in the top third of the market, don’t worry about the peak.
Know your breakeven price, your profit price, and your dream price. If you see
a good price, at least lock in a portion of your crop at that price. When was
the last time you had a complete crop failure? Use the tools of the
marketplace. Etc. etc.

Actually, I think Lee, who is with Myers Norris Penny now,
is quite good at what he does and is a man of many talents. He knows marketing,
plays the guitar, coaches hockey, and manages a discount, over night travel
service to Cuba.

Enough preamble, there are some excellent marketing courses
coming up in Alberta in January through to early March. These are four and six
day courses led by Lee Mevill, Neil Blue and David Wong sponsored by the
Alberta Canola Producers Commission. Cost is $500, but that includes lunches.
For details go to the Alberta Canola Producers website at or
phone 1-800-551-6652.

Course locations include: La Corey, (northeast Alberta) Jan.
17 to 31; Vulcan (southern Alberta) Jan. 19 to Feb.17; Manning (Peace River
region) Feb. 7 to 11; Pine Lake (near Red Deer) Feb. 14 to 17; and Drumheller,
(just northeast of Calgary) Feb. 14 to March 3.

Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or
by email at
[email protected]










About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.


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