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What is a marketing club?

January 23, 2009
From WAYNE SCHOPER Brown/Nicollet Extension Educator

Marketing clubs have a long history in the Midwestern United States and have recently seen resurgence in Minnesota as a direct result of the University of Minnesota's Master Marketer and Winning the Game programs. Extension educators have been heavily involved in organizing and recruiting members for these marketing clubs. The emphasis is on learning how to market your commodities, either crops or livestock, in a more profitable way.

So exactly what is marketing club and how is it accessed by those who are interested? These marketing clubs are focused on ongoing group training and discussion sessions looking at marketing methods, tools, issues and trends. The sessions include informal teaching with research based materials from the University of Minnesota along with material from other credible sources along with discussion facilitated by regional and county extension educators. The real value is that you can put together a marketing plan customized to your farming operation and the cash-flow needs of your farming operation. Most groups consist of 10 to 20 member farms and meet from 12 to 20 times per year. The meetings usually last from 1 ? hours to 2 hours and cover a wide variety of topics pertaining to the marketing of crops and livestock.

Typical members of marketing clubs are farmers who produce grain and livestock and the ag professionals that support them. These supporting professionals might be lenders, commodity brokers or grain merchandisers.

So what are the potential of marketing clubs? What can you, as a producer of agricultural commodities, expect if you join such a group? First of all, there is an opportunity to interact with other farmers and learn what they are doing with marketing plans and forward contracting grain sales. Also these groups are led by University of Minnesota Ag Business personnel that have a lot of experience and resources to help you make decisions and put that marketing plan on paper.

Where marketing clubs really shine is that they can help you lock-in and get a better price for your commodities. A recent survey of 62 marketing clubs in Minnesota returned 173 surveys. Of these, 155 reported positive impacts on their operations due to attending marketing sessions where they learned about all aspects of marketing ag commodities. They also reported a 163% improvement in the use of marketing plans with an average income increase per farm of $20,401 due following a good marketing plan.

So we know that the marketing club can be an excellent source of information on market trends and analysis. Sharing ideas with other farmers is also of great value. Marketing is a continual learning experience and only ends when you exit production agriculture. Many producers report that it helps them make decisions that they would ordinarily procrastinate on and in turn miss out on making a profit. I know for a fact that many farmers do not have a lot of grain sold for 2009 delivery. That is not true for members of marketing clubs as many of them have corn and soybeans sold well into 2009 and 2010.

We do have an active commodity marketing group that meets on a monthly basis in Brown County. If you would like to attend a meeting to see what it is like or if you are interested in forming a marketing club, give me (Wayne Schoper) a call at my office either in Sleepy Eye at 507-794-7993 or in St. Peter at 507-934-0360 to discuss.



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