Grain marketing shifting to a digital focus

More producers are turing their attention online to help market their grain.  Photo: File/Lorraine Stevenson

Winnipeg | CNS Canada – The future of grain marketing includes access to a larger market for producers online, according to Lyle Ehrmantraut.

“You have to be able to see the deals to make the best decisions. So without all the deals in front of you in a centralized system I don’t know how it’s possible to go to bed at night knowing you have the best price,” he said during the What Technology Can We Expect in the Next 3-5 Year? panel at Grain World in Winnipeg, Nov. 15.

Ehrmantraut is president and CEO of Ag Exchange Group, which has an online grain marketing service, CXN360 that connects producers with buyers directly to sell grain.

Ehrmantraut has witnessed firsthand how the grain industry has changed having grown up in the rural community of Torquay, Sask. His father was a farmer and would drive his grain down the road a quarter of a mile to the elevator.

The number of elevators in Western Canada has gone down over the last three decades. In the 1980s there was almost 3,000 elevators dotting the Prairies as to now there is just under 350.

“I think the world’s changed a little bit in that sense, as a farm I’m not sure how it’s possible for them to get (to all the elevators in western Canada),” Ehrmantraut said.

This is where technology steps in. For years it was the traditional, farm to elevator to port shipping process. There would be countless phone calls to find out information on both the producer and the elevator side, and in the end the information would sometimes be out of date by the time it got to the end of the line.

“That’s where we think technology would to some degree can step in and help us communicate more efficiently and also you know have a buying contract at the end of it,” Ehrmantraut said.

With technology, like Ehrmantraut’s CXN360 program, producers can now have access to the whole market, and therefore have a clear transparency of where they’re selling their grain.

“(By) sending out target prices to one buyer at a time, versus using technology that’s targeted to every buyer out there in the market, the only (way) for ground pricing is through straight transparency,” he said.

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