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Thinking About Joining a Marketing Group

By David Bau, Extension Educator

Marketing groups and clubs have been in existence for many years and give farmers the opportunity to share and discuss marketing ideas and strategies. I have worked with several groups since 1999 and currently meet with four groups. Most groups consist of 10 to 20 member farms and meet 12 to 20 times per year for 90 to 120 minutes. Local sponsors are involved in promoting, developing and managing these groups.

Marketing groups are ongoing group training and discussion sessions focused on marketing methods, tools, issues, conditions, and trends. The sessions include formal teaching with research based materials from the University of Minnesota, and other credible sources along with discussion facilitated by Regional Extension Educators. Each group formulates a pre-harvest and post-harvest marketing plan that is used to benchmark individual marketing performance.

Typical members of marketing clubs are commodity grain and livestock producers of any size and the agricultural professionals that support them. Each farm pays a fee to cover the cost of materials, travel, technology and other costs associated with operating and managing these groups.

Marketing clubs have a long history in the Midwestern United States and have seen resurgence in Minnesota as a direct result of the University of Minnesota’s Master Marketer and Winning the Game programs.  Agricultural Business Management educators have been teaching at, facilitating and organizing marketing clubs for over 18 years.

Clubs that are managed and facilitated by Ag Business Management Educators and their local partners are located in Southwestern. Current U of M Marketing Groups are located in Brown County (Sleepy Eye), Murray County (Slayton), and Wanda.

From 2004 through 2015, farmers in these marketing groups averaged 5 cents per corn bushel marketed better than the average price received by their peers, (farmers in southern Minnesota adult farm management programs) and 24 cents per soybean bushels. This would translate into a total benefit on 88,300 bushels of corn sold and 20,200 bushels of soybeans sold each year per farm. A total of $9,263 per farm per year more income than their peers. The total per farm over 12 years would be $111,156. For all 55 farms that total increased revenue above their peers would total $6,113,580.

The average farm earns 20-30 cents per bushel (including gov’t payments). Just 10 cents more per bushel could increase net income by 33-50%!  Great marketing is not finding the high price. It’s finding an extra 10-20 cents per bushel with a solid plan that avoids mistakes.

A survey of Mature Marketing Clubs in Minnesota (62 groups and 173 surveys returned) showed these results. 155 reported positive impacts on their operation due to attending marketing group sessions. The reported a 163% improvement in the use of marketing plans with an average increase of income per operation of $20,401 per year. Those surveyed also made these comments:
  • The marketing club is another excellent source of information on market trends and analysis.  Sharing ideas is probably the best information I receive from the meetings.  
  • Marketing is a continual learning experience. It only ends when you exit production agriculture. A person could not take in too much information. I would like to see the marketing club stressed to more Ag producers.
  • This has been, and continues to be a very positive experience. Discussing issues at hand, strategies and plans helps me to make decisions and /or write my marketing plan. Also gives me the courage to make decisions otherwise I have a tendency to procrastinate. 
University of Minnesota Extension has been conducting several marketing groups across Minnesota. Educators facilitate meetings where producers discuss current marketing issues and develop a marketing plan for their farms.  Farmers attend regular, at least monthly, meetings to develop and enhance their commodity marketing plans for an annual fee.

If you would like to join one of my existing groups or thinking about starting your own, just send me an e-mail at or give me a call at 507-372-3900 ext. 3906. I would be glad to come to an organizational or informational start up meeting.

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