Marketing strategies program provides knowledge to Wyoming producers
A series of visits with producers in the Big Horn Basin led the Wyoming Business Council’s Value-Added Program Manager Donn Randall to develop a program for crop producers throughout the state to have a better understanding of soil beyond their home.
Upon visiting the Big Horn Basin, Randall arrived back to his office in Cheyenne with the knowledge that the northwest part of Wyoming had a different type of problem when it came to marketing their products, and Randall was not the only one who was concerned about helping crop producers expand their knowledge on alternative marketing strategies. He was in collaboration with Linda Cruikshank of PFM Inc. located in Arcadia, Neb.
“I met Linda Cruikshank when she was presenting at a Wyoming Wheat Commission meeting, and right away I could tell that she had technical knowledge of alternative marketing strategies. She also had a great rapport with producers. Linda and her husband live on a farm where they raise corn, soybeans and cattle so she is able to properly answer their questions,” says Randall.
Following that meeting, Randall approached Cruikshank about writing a grant, and together they submitted a grant in 2011, but were turned down. They took the suggestions they were given and rewrote the proposal, and the second time around they became the recipient of a grant that would give them the opportunity to supply crop producers with the Risk Management Marketing Strategies Education Program.
“We were able to take 48 producers and their knowledge of the markets and marketing from ground zero to a point well above that. The producers have a marketing toolbox, and in that toolbox they have been given several tools, which range from selling contracts and local cash markets to the more advanced tools like hedging and options. Now that the producers know how to use them, they need to do so or they will forget,” says Randall.
Randall and Cruikshank conducted eight sessions for the program. Four of the sessions were presented at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, while the other four sessions were held at Northwest College in Powell.
At the end of the program, the producers worked together on a team project. Through the program, those attending were given a notebook with nearly 150 pages of the information presented at the four sessions, including worksheets and activities that were used to emphasize the main points of the learning experience.
The program focused on the technical jargon frequently used within the marketing of commodities and agriculture in general. They were also given the knowledge to use the tools to best fit their operations.
“After the session was complete, I met with some of the producers who had attended the program to discuss what we had gone over to reflect on the outcome. One of the producers said to me, ‘I am always so focused on the production end of my operation that I forget about the marketing aspect of it all.’ When you get up early in the morning to start your day to get your crops ready, the markets are off changing, and unless you have a computer with you at all times, it’s hard to follow exactly what they are doing,” says Randall.
Six students of Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) and 17 producers completed the program when it was presented at the EWC campus. In the Big Horn Basin, 25 producers completed the program at Northwest College.
“When we wrote the grant we saw that there are two areas that really stick out when producing crops, and that is the Big Horn Basin and the southeast side of the state. The two schools were the logical place to collaborate with to put on the program. We thought it would be nice to work together with the colleges,” says Randall.
According to the feedback provided by the producers who attended the program, there is interest to continue the program and to even expand on it. Randall and Cruikshank are conjuring up ways to make sure they meet the producer’s suggestions.
“We want to let producers know that we are here and willing to help them grow. Linda especially can be of great help. She is the opportunity of the program we have put together,” says Randall.
Currently another grant to provide the program again is not being written, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen, nor does it mean there will not be another program like it in the future, says Randall.
Allie Leitza is a summer intern for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup from Pine Bluffs. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.