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Farm Latest Happenings

Ag experts share insights at First Bank Farm Forum

At First Bank's most recent Farm Forum, presenters and ag industry experts, John Coleman and Jeff Fichtelman, shared some great insights relative to weather and pricing futures. Here’s an overview of what they had to say.

John Coleman
CFA | Director, Structuring

  • Weather is volatile, virtually impossible to predict and causes production and quality losses for farmers every year. 
  • Forecasts are available, but are only useful over very short horizons. 
  • These short horizons do not provide enough time for a farmer to make necessary operational adjustments to avoid the impact of bad weather.
  • Crop insurance is a valuable risk management tool to protect against bad weather, but has many limitations.
  • Since crop insurance is based on historical production, it cannot protect the full achievable yield a farmer has each year.
  • Weather products are the only true top-end yield protection since they allow a farmer to guard against minor weather variations that cause top-end yield losses:
    • Guarantee up to 100% of your normal rainfall.
    • Get paid if it’s warmer than normal during corn pollination.
    • Be indemnified if your planting window is wetter than average
  • Think about using weather products in your operation this year to guard your profit bushels on your best fields, or to protect against problem areas that hurt your operation and drag down your crop insurance guarantees over time.

JeffJeff Fichtelman
Customer Risk Manager
Consolidated Grain and Barge Company (CGB)

  • Don’t get caught up in the market emotions when everyone you know is bullish. Take a step back and see if the market is agreeing with them. If we are failing to hit new highs, then it’s time to sell! If we are hitting new highs ever 2-3 days, then be patient, but ready to act.
  • I’d much rather sell chunks into rallies than try to wait for one key day and sell a lot. That’s my personality. Think about your own – if you can wait and pull the trigger on a lot, then stick to that discipline when the day arrives. Otherwise, think about selling in chunks – it’s easier.
  • Reflect back at the end of each year and think about the good and bad decisions you made on your marketing. Write down the bad ones and try to do one less of them next year. This continuous growth will produce great results in the long run.
  • NEVER buy calls after funds are net long 100k or more. You’d be better off donating that money to charity. On the flip side, always buy calls when funds are net short 200k contracts or more (especially in the Spring) – and always buy with at least three months until expiration. Then sell half if/when you double the cost of purchase. Stick with this discipline – it works!
  • Discipline is always better than winging it – sometimes it won’t feel that way, but if you flip a coin and win two times for every one time you lose, you’ll become a much wealthier marketer.

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