AgDM newsletter article, March 2001

Advanced grain marketing course -- on the Internet

Tim EggersBy Tim Eggers, extension ag. economist, 712-542-5171,

Iowa postcards sold at a local drugstore often feature a farmhouse, barn, silo, and lush crops growing in the fields. This scene is depicted with good reason. In 1999, Iowa led the nation in corn and soybean production. However, with low crop prices, farmers are tempted to pursue innovative marketing strategies. In these times, it is especially important for producers to understand grain-marketing alternatives.

To aid grain producers and the professionals, who serve them, Iowa State University Extension agricultural economists have developed an on-line Advanced Grain Marketing course. The goals of the course are to enhance marketing and risk management skills, and assist in the development of a unique marketing plan.

With traditional marketing education programs, the time and effort required to participate by attending scheduled meetings has been a significant deterrent. To overcome this obstacle, the teaching team designed this course for individualized activity within a learning community.

The objective is to create an environment where you can learn at your own pace and are not be restricted by time or geography. You can log on at noon or 3 a.m., whatever suits your schedule. You can take tests when you are ready.

Pre-tests help you prepare for the course by helping you assess your grain marketing knowledge. Modules focus on a single concept and provide multi-media resources to help you learn and apply the concept. The text includes links to key data sites, real-time examples, short audio explanations, graphical explanations, quizzes with instant feedback, and links to a glossary of terms. The modules for the Advanced Grain Marketing course include:

“I like the ability to print a copy of a topic and read it whenever I have a free moment. I don’t have much spare time, so accessing materials whenever I want is great,” said a Waverly farmer who was part of the pilot test group.

Participants can discuss questions and concerns among themselves, and instructors provide encouragement and support via e-mail and phone calls. At the end of the course, you will meet the instructors in person for a market simulation and evaluation session.

You are not the only person learning during the Advanced Grain Marketing course. You shape the learning environment by your comments and actions. For example, pages visited multiple times show a concentration of interest or a poorly communicated concept. Course authors can then adjust the course by rewriting the explanation or starting a discussion group on the topic.

You can provide feedback to let the instructors know what to improve. For example, Donna, an out-of-state farmer commented, “The samples used to explain the theory, like the analyzing risk sheet with 20 years of data, could be a stumbling block for folks because of the time involved.” Student comments also help the instructors modify the course to meet different learning styles.

For more information on the upcoming classes of the Advanced Grain Marketing course, contact me at the telephone number and e-mail address listed above.


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