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22 PRICES nfrom pg 21


low and if you sell towards the high or the low, that has huge implications for the farm,” he explains. Voth says global grain


stocks were drawn down at a fairly alarming pace between 2011 and 2013 as drought cut production in major grain- producing countries. This led to volatile pricing. Stocks have recovered since, meaning less risk, but Voth says another weather disaster could mean renewed volatility. Speculators and institutional funds aimed at making money from shifting conditions are also significant factors that ensure ongoing volatility. “I don’t think we’re going back to 25 or 50-cent spreads from the high to the low because you’ve got too many players in the game now that push the market based on any little bit of news or information they hear. And they push it beyond where it should be – upside and downside,” Voth says. “FCC puts on these events


as a way of giving back to the agricultural community by bringing the best minds in agriculture to provide practical knowledge to take back to their businesses and a chance to network with others,” say Laurel Piper, a relationship manager with FCC based in Dawson Creek.


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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • JANUARY 2018 Seven Deadly Sins of (just about any) marketing The traditional seven deadly sins can


kill a person’s spiritual life but veteran grain market Brian Voth, president of IntelliFARM Inc., says they can do the same to the lifeblood of a farm – profitability. All can cause producers unnecessary grief, even in small doses.


Lust


Some producers are always looking to sell at the peak of the market, something Voth says is highly improbable. “You never know until after the fact what is the high,” says Voth. Rather than aim for the high point, farmers should mitigate risk by spreading sales across a number of periods when return on investment (ROI) is possible.


Gluttony Some producers achieve a return on


investment – but then hold out for more. “Farms should know their cost of


production and should have a projected ROI for each crop and the farm as a whole and yet ... we always want more,” he says. But it’s better to regret selling at a


lower profit now than waiting, only to see yield and prices fall out of sync. “Nobody’s ever gone broke selling at


a profit,” Voth says. Greed Voth says greed is the biggest


enemy of a marketing plan because it leads farmers to focus on obtaining the


greatest yield or highest price for their crop. What they should be focusing on is profitability. He says it’s more than a tax time discussion.


Sloth


Growers can busy themselves tending the fields but if they’re lazy about marketing the crop, then all the other work is pointless. “Marketing often gets done because


guys have to do it, not because they want to, which leads to being reactive to the market rather than proactive,” Voth says.


While laziness paid off in the bull


market from 2010 to 2013, when canola went from $370 a tonne to $650 a tonne, it was the growers who had a sales plan who succeeded when prices dropped back to $392 a tonne by December 2013.


Wrath


Being angry about a previous decision can distract farmers from present opportunities, Voth says. “The deal is done; you have to focus on what you have left to sell,” he says. “Don’t berate yourself if prices go higher. You should be hoping that prices go higher because you’ve got more grain to sell.” A former client once took Voth to


task for selling 20% of his oats at $3 a bushel and when the price went up to $3.15, the client claimed he had lost money on the early sale. The farmer was blinded by anger to the fact that his oats sold at a profit, and the


remaining 80% would enjoy an even higher margin. “By that logic, you wanted to sell at $3 and then you wanted the market to drop to $2.85 to make you feel better about the stuff you sold at $3,” Voth told him – and then ended the relationship.


Envy Voth grew up in a small town with


two coffee shops, and knows the danger of envy at the “farmer” tables. It usually follows the one-upmanship farmers can engage in. “If you sit with a table with 10 farmers and you know nothing about them, which farmer has the best yields or the best price on their grain?” he asks. “The last farmer who talks.” It’s easy to be eaten up with envy if


you don’t know how much the farmer made, Voth says.


Pride


“Where pride becomes a negative thing is if you’re too proud to admit you need help.” Voth tells producers to run their


farm like a business, and get the help they need – whether it’s an accountant, lawyer, agronomist or marketer for their crop. “It is a high-capital, high-risk


business,” he says. “If you look at any successful company, they outsource things they can’t do or don’t like doing and focus on what they are good at. Farms should be the same way.” —Myrna Stark Leader


More Crops. Less Ash.


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