Growers who want to experience grain marketing using real-world strategies without any of the real-world risks can take advantage of a series of online courses taught by experts from Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
The courses, to be offered Jan. 7, Jan. 21, Feb. 4, Feb. 18 and March 4, will offer participants the ability to experience simulations using options commonly used in grain marketing without the risk of actually taking a position on real bushels, said Chris Bruynis, an Ohio State University Extension educator.
OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the college.
Participants will learn how to use futures and options, make a marketing plan to fit their farm business, use crop insurance as a grain marketing tool and understand financial statement analysis in relationship to their grain marketing plan, Bruynis said.
"The series of online courses enables farmers to log in from home," he said. "This will allow more people access to the courses as well as target younger farmers who are looking for this kind of educational opportunity.
"Participants will gain a better understanding of the tools available to market grain and the resources to look at in making those decisions, including the risk that their farm's financial position can handle."
The simulation uses the Commodity Challenge, a program managed by the Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota.
The online-trading game features real-time cash, futures and options quotes for corn, soybeans and wheat from local markets in Ohio, Bruynis said.
"The simulated grain marketing will allow participants to market, on paper, the bushels we've assigned them to try out the grain marketing tools used in the real world without the risk of doing it with real bushels," Bruynis said. "The Commodity Challenge software does not allow participants to speculate; it is designed to only allow participants to sell the bushels assigned.
"Participants can use basis contracts, puts and calls, and can sell cash on the market, basically all of the tools we have in real life without any of the real risk of marketing real bushels."
The workshops are from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with each course building on information taught in the previous course. Registration for the online classes is $135, but each participant can earn part or all of the cost back through their participation in the course, Bruynis said.
Part of each participant's registration costs will be placed in a pool that will be distributed back to participants based on how well they market their grain in the commodity challenge, he said. Those who sell their challenge grain for the average of all course participants will earn a refund of $100 from their registration fee, Bruynis said.
Those who do above the course average will earn more than $100, and those who do less than the course average will receive less than $100, he said.
"The refund is an incentive to give participants a reason to do as well as they can in the commodity challenge," Bruynis said.