September 20, 2010

For Immediate Release


Fargo, N.D., USA – Thirty-five grain buyers from 20 nations are attending the 2010 Grain Procurement Management for Importers short course at Northern Crops Institute (NCI), Fargo, N.D., to learn how to make more effective purchases in the U.S. grain marketing system.  
The course runs from September 20-29.

Grain buyers attending the course are from Belgium, China, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Libya, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Philippines, Portugal, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, and USA. They represent large and small flour mills, food manufacturers, and trading companies that import and trade hard red spring wheat (HRS), durum wheat, corn, soybeans, barley and other commodities.  Two representatives of the European Commission, EU’s executive body, are also attending the course.

U.S. Wheat Associates is sponsoring many of the participants.

“This is a really exciting time in the grain industry,” says NCI Director Brian Sorenson.  “Buyers are dealing with a high level of volatility in the markets.  We have had a number of weather issues in U.S.  Now we are looking at the situation in Canada with late harvest and frost problems, issues with the Russian government cutting off exports, and Ukraine hindering exports. We have other discussions in parts of Europe related to quality, and Australia is talking about drought again.  It’s a very interesting time for buyers.” 

“This course helps our participants focus on the tools available to navigate through these choppy waters.   We are excited to meet with the participants every year.  Every class is great and each one is different.  This year’s group is very focused on trying to figure out the best strategies for how to buy grain for the near term and down the road,” says Sorenson.

John Crabtree, NCI Assistant Director, coordinates the course.  William Wilson, Ph.D., NDSU professor of agribusiness and applied economics, is the lead lecturer for the course. Featured speakers include Roger Baker, CHS; Art Boline, GIPSA/USDA; and David Bullock, Ph.D., FC Stone; Bradley Clow, Union Pacific Railroad; Tanya Coakley, Trading Technologies International; Austin Damiani, Frontier Futures; Ron DeJongh, Columbia Grain; Maurice Hurst, Cargill, Inc.; Mike Klein, CHS;  Brian McLaughlin, Trading Technologies International; Randy Narloch, ADM-Benson Quinn; Erica Olson, N.D. Wheat Commission; Frayne Olson, Ph.D., NDSU Extension Service; Todd Pester, Ph.D., Monsanto; Darcy Rasmussen, N.D. Grain Inspection Service; and Steve Wirsching, U.S. Wheat Associates.

Several site visits are planned during the course.  General Manager Paul Skarnagel will host a tour of Hunter (N.D.) Grain Company.  Bob Sinner will host the group during a tour of his company, SB&B Foods, Casselton, N.D.  At the end of the week, 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 (MGEX) during the course’s second week, short course participants will meet with grain traders, who will talk about commercial grain export trading practices.  Mark Bagan, MGEX President and CEO, is scheduled to greet the group.  Rita Maloney and Joe Albrecht, also of MGEX, 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.

“The grain industry is definitely changing,” says Sorenson.  “We are seeing a shift to electronic tools for purchasing grain.  One example of this is how the Minneapolis Grain Exchange has gone completely over to electronic trading.  There is no more open out-cry.  We still spend a day and a half at the MGEX to see how the grain exchange operates, and we meet with a number of key players in the grain trade.  While we are in the Twin Cities area, we take the opportunity to see a barge facility at Savage, Minn., which is something that few of our participants have ever seen.”

“Going to visit the Duluth port is an important part of this course.  The group meets with Port Authority personnel to learn more about the grain shipments going out of the ports in Duluth and Superior, Wis. We also tour an export facility, which is really important to these buyers because they can actually see the facility from which their grain purchases are loaded and shipped,” concludes Sorenson. 

This year’s lecture topics include: U.S. grain handling and transportation system, cash and futures markets, basis and spreads, U.S. grain grading standards, commodity analysis, hedging principles, options use by importers, exporter merchandising, contracting and strategies, price risk management, cash grain contracting, purchase quality specifications, role of railroads in U.S. agricultural exports, grain situation and outlook, buyer/seller relations, managing supply chain, international contracts and arbitration, introduction to electronic trading, procurement strategies by exporters, supplier-customer relationships, managing ocean freight risks, and the future of biotech wheat.