JIM CARLSON, VICE PRESIDENT OF AGRONOMY
If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my career in ag, it’s to expect the unexpected when it comes to markets. This past year has been a prime example. We’ve seen commodity prices swinging hundreds of dollars in either direction day-to-day. For growers and co-ops, it can make things feel uncertain.
One important thing to remember is that the markets don’t exist in isolation – there is an interconnection that spans the globe. For example, conflicts and events as far away as the potash mines in Israel or social unrest in South America can cause ripples in the agricultural markets here in the Midwest. A disruption to potash supply affects fertilizer costs, which then impacts farm budgets and commodity prices. It’s a domino effect that reminds us we are part of a complex global system. While these external forces are out of our control, we can control how we prepare for and react to volatility.
At UFC, we see market volatility as an opportunity to improve communication and education about risk management. Risk will always be there. The best way we can handle market volatility is by continuing to educate ourselves about risk, both as a business and on the grower side. Internally, we’re focused on providing new risk mitigation tools. One example is AgVend- a technology platform that will give growers access to the information and resources needed to make informed decisions from anywhere and at any time. Once it’s in place, it will allow us to capture pricing targets, lock in timeframes and communicate better and faster in the midst of the volatility. This will be a win-win for both UFC and our growers, especially when risk is high.
The idea of “sharing risk to succeed together” is central to our co-op. By weathering uncertainty as a team, UFC and our growers can thrive through ups and downs. With the power of innovative tools and a shared spirit of resilience, we can ride the wave of any risk together.
Rather than be daunted by market swings, I feel energized. Our industry faces a new normal, at least for the time being, of volatility driven by global events. But with dedicated employees, resilient member-owners, and our ever-evolving risk management practices, I’m confident UFC will navigate it successfully. We’re here to turn uncertainty into opportunity.