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Web tool creates marketing plan


Program creates detailed reports that can be shared with bankers, investors


By SEAN ELLIS


Capital Press


BOISE -- A new online tool that will enable farmers to develop detailed marketing plans that include break-even and profit targets was unveiled Dec. 4 during Idaho Farm Bureau Federation's 73rd annual meeting.


The program lets farmers know if they're profitable with today's current prices and helps them manage the many components of price risk, including cash sales, futures, options and insurance.


"I think it's a great tool for our members to use ... to help them figure out how to improve their bottom line with a simple, Web-based program," said grain farmer and IFBF Vice President Mark Trupp.


The program is named after GrainBridge, a Nebraska-based company founded in 2007. IFBF is the first group in the Western United States to use the program, according to Clark Johnston of J.C. Management, which will manage the program for IFBF.


GrainBridge is being provided free to IFBF members. The state's largest general farm group includes about 15,000 people who derive the majority of their income from agriculture.


Members who use the program will 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 quickly updates projections when new numbers are punched in can print out a detailed report that producers can take to their banker.


"The reports are a big selling point," Johnston said. "It shows here's what I'm planning on producing, here's where the prices are right now and here is what my projected income is going to be for this next year. Your banker has never received a report like that from you before."


The program allows users to develop plans for individual fields or multiple crop years. It can be used for a wide variety of crops and IFBF hopes to have a similar program available for cattle producers early next year.


Because it's updated daily with current market prices, users can compare current average prices against their break-even and profit target prices. That's one of the program's biggest benefits, said Bryan Searle, who grows potatoes, grain and hay and is a member of IFBF's board of directors.


"Our markets any more are moving 50, 60, 70 cents a day, so you have to make quick decisions," he said. "Now, with a smartphone or tablet or whatever, you can look and know immediately if you're profitable or not. I think it's a real good way to know where you're at today."


IFBF leaders were told the group could make a lot of money through the program but Searle said it was important to Farm Bureau to provide the service free to its members.


"If we're going to continue to have Farm Bureau members, we have to stay in business," he said. "And if we can't be smart business marketers, we're not in business tomorrow."


To set up a free account, IFBF members can call Peg Pratt at 208-239-4228.



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