SUN VALLEY — An online marketing tool that allows beef producers to develop detailed plans that take much of the guesswork out of profitability was introduced Dec. 3 during Idaho Farm Bureau Federation’s 74th annual meeting.
A similar tool for several of Idaho’s major crops — including wheat, corn, potatoes, hay, dry beans, barley and sugar beets — was introduced during last year’s meeting.
About 150 farmers are using GrainBridge, which is offered free to the 15,000 IFBF members who derive the majority of their income from agriculture.
“The producers who are using it are extremely pleased with how it’s operating for them,” said Clark Johnston of J.C. Management, which manages the program for IFBF.
People who use the program need to enter their estimated crop acreage and all input costs, including fertilizer, seed, insurance, labor, fuel, utilities, repairs, term debt payments and capital purchases.
The program shows farmers what their break-even and profit targets are and lets them know if they’re profitable at today’s prices.
“Rather than just guessing where our profit point is, we actually have a good idea of exactly where we can sell at and be profitable,” Johnston said. “You can make a decision … based off what you know rather than where you think the market’s going.”
He said the program helps farmers manage the many components of price risk, including cash sales, futures options and insurance.
“It can take some of the emotion out of your selling and allow you to make educated decisions,” said Declo farmer Mike Garner, who uses GrainBridge for sugar beets, alfalfa, malt barley, corn silage, potatoes and irrigated grass hay.
Garner, who plans to start using GrainBridge for his feedlot, said the tool is easy to use.
“For those of us who get 100 percent of our income from agriculture, this is a tremendous tool if you just use it and it’s really not that hard,” he said. “It’s very simple and there’s not a lot of excessive information. It gives me my break-evens and then my profit margins.”
Shelley farmer Bryan Searle, who uses GrainBridge on potatoes, grain and hay, said the tool takes much of the guesswork and emotion out of deciding when to sell.
“It just gives you that peace of mind and discipline … to know when to pull some triggers rather than riding on emotion,” he said. “It helps you sleep at night.”