Tough Economic Situation Draws Grain Buyers to NCI Procurement Course

Fargo, N.D., USA – A tough economic situation throughout the world and a complex U.S. grain marketing system combine to make a grain buyer’s job difficult.  Twenty-seven grain buyers from 18 nations are learning how to make more effective purchases while decreasing their risk as they attend the 2011 Grain Procurement Management for Importers short course at Northern Crops Institute (NCI), Fargo, N.D. The course runs from September 19-28.

“One of the things we have seen in the past few years is an increased amount of volatility in the marketplace,” says John Crabtree, NCI Assistant Director and coordinator of the course. “The combination of price jumps, world economy, and an uncertain grain supply from year to year have resulted in significant price volatility. 

“We are continuing to see a lot of private trading companies at our courses. They are looking for ways in which they can do a better job of managing their risk and procuring grain for their companies. This course gives the participants important risk management tools.  You cannot eliminate risk completely but there are ways in which buyers can limit the amount of risk that they have to deal with.  That’s really the purpose of the course,” concludes Crabtree.

Grain buyers attending the course are from Algeria, Belgium, Canada, China, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, USA, and Yemen.

U.S. Wheat Associates, U.S. Grains Council, USDA FAS Cochran Fellowship Program, and the North Dakota Corn Council are sponsoring participants in this course.

Highlights of the course are lectures by academic and commodity trade authorities on cash and futures markets, and sessions with grain merchandisers who unravel the complexities of international grain markets.  

On-site tours of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, a country elevator, Duluth Seaway Port Authority, an export grain terminal, and a barge facility will round-out the course.

William Wilson, Ph.D., NDSU professor of agribusiness and applied economics, is the lead lecturer for the course. Featured speakers include Art Boline, GIPSA/USDA;  David Bullock, Ph.D., FC Stone; Austin Damiani, Frontier Futures Inc.; Ron DeJongh, Columbia Grain; Russ Huntington, BNSF Railroad; Maurice Hurst, Cargill, Inc.; Mike Klein, CHS Inc.; Brian McLaughlin, Trading Technologies International; Randy Narloch, ADM-Benson Quinn; John Oades, Ph.D., Consultant, Vancouver, Wash.;  Jim Peterson, N.D. Wheat Commission; Frayne Olson, Ph.D., NDSU Extension Service; and Darcy Rasmussen, N.D. Grain Inspection Service.

Several site visits are planned during the course.  General Manager Paul Skarnagel hosted a tour of Hunter (N.D.) Grain Company.  On Sunday, Sept. 25, course participants will travel to Duluth, Minn., where they will tour the Duluth Seaway Port Authority with Executive Director Adolph Ojard, and the CHS Export Grain Terminal with Superintendent Dick Carlson.

At the Minneapolis Grain Exchange (MGE) during the course’s second week, short course participants will meet with grain traders, who will discuss commercial grain export trading practices.  Mark Bagan, MGE President and CEO, is scheduled to greet the group.  Rita Maloney, MGE, will discuss the history of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange.

Superintendent Greg Oberle will explain the grain transport system on the Mississippi River during a tour of CHS Barge Facility at Savage, Minn.

This year’s course topics focus on the U.S. grain handling and transportation system; cash and futures markets; basis and spreads; U.S. grain grading standards; commodity analysis; basic hedging principles; options use by importers; trading game exercises; exporter merchandising, contracting, and strategies; cash grain contracting; purchase quality specifications for importers; grain situation and outlook; role of railroads in U.S. exports; buyer/seller relations; commercial export trading practices; trader’s perspective; managing supply chain; international contracts and arbitration; electronic trading; procurement strategies by exporters; customer relations; and managing ocean freight risks.

Northern Crops Institute is the international center for meeting and learning about crops produced in the four-state region of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana. Situated on the campus of North Dakota State University, NCI exists as a forum to bring together customers, commodity traders, technical experts, processors and producers from all points of the globe for discussion, education, and technical service programs. Since 1983, the Institute has hosted visitors from more than 128 countries.