On September 29, 2020, I completed my first fall work day at Advance Trading, Inc. in Bloomington, IL. I spent the first few hours of the morning with Nathan Mangold. I was first given an overview of the territories and companies that ATI works with and Nathan showed me some of the commodity price tracking programs he utilizes to complete his job. I then listened in on a call that Nathan had with several operators at an elevator in Kansas, where they discussed the state of the markets and what to watch for in the days to come as the harvest season progresses.
I then met Curt Strubhar and sat in on a virtual meeting with representatives from the NGFA, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and a railroad company that transports received grain. These groups discussed how the markets are conducted and how important the railroads are in transporting the grain. It was interesting to see how workers from different areas of the same industry taught each other about how these seemingly distant trades tie in together to accomplish the goal of getting grain where it needs to be.
After lunch, I sat in on the weekly meeting with about 10 brokers at ATI. In this meeting, they covered the pressing issues that would be encountered in the coming week and throughout the harvest season. Much of the information involved supply and demand trends across the world and how they will impact us here in central IL.
Overall, this was a very beneficial day for me as I again learned how widespread and yet interconnected the grain industry is.
What a whirlwind 2020 has been so far. This summer I had a great opportunity to intern with the merchandising team at Ag Processing Inc. (AGP) at their regional office in Eagle Grove, IA. AGP primarily engages in purchasing soybeans from regional and local cooperatives, as well as private elevators. With the merchandising team I purchased soybeans, sold hi-pro soybean meal, soybean hulls, and AGP’s dairy bypass protein, AMINOPLUS®. Additionally, I analyzed our daily hedging position, compiled plant reports, and assisted with truck dispatching. My supervisor for the summer was Shara Schmeling, the merchandising manager for the Eagle Grove regional office. I had the opportunity to sit down with Shara to gain some insight into her path in merchandising, as well as gather some advice.
Shara got her start in merchandising through an internship she had while at Iowa State her junior year. She started with AGP in 2010, and first worked at AGP’s plant in Emmetsburg, IA before moving to Eagle Grove after a year. At each plant, she engaged in the procurement of soybeans and sale of finished soy commodities, developing relationships with customers, and engaging in supply chain management. Today, Shara is the regional merchandising manager for the Eagle Grove office, which oversees merchandising and logistics for the Emmetsburg and Mason City, IA plants as well. When I asked Shara to reflect on her time at AGP she stated, “My role with AGP is a very fulfilling one, I enjoy the company and the culture. I am part of a team who is very committed and work hard every day.” When speaking to those interested in a career in merchandising, she highlighted the importance of learning about the fundamentals of merchandising and gathering experience with a company to learn about the day to day activities.
I appreciate the continued financial and interactive support of the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois. I had a great experience talking with members in February at the annual convention, and the willingness of these members to make time to offer advice to those of us interested in the industry.
I wish you all a safe and successful harvest season, and I hope to see you in February.
Will J. Feucht
My name is Wade Hutchens and it is my honor and with great appreciation I write this blog post for the GFAI as a renewable scholarship recipient. I am from Ewing, Illinois in Franklin County, where I grew up on a cow/calf and show pig farm. I attended Illinois State University and studied Animal Science and Animal Industry Management. Currently, I attend Kansas State University as a Graduate Research Assistant in Swine Nutrition. I will be finishing up my Master’s degree in Applied Swine Nutrition from Kansas State this winter and my goal is to become a Swine Nutritionist working with producers to better their own operations by nutritional means.
Through my participation with GFAI I have worked with member facilities, visited and learned about operations across Illinois, and interacted with key individuals that help feed America every day. This year, as a renewable scholarship recipient, I had the opportunity to interview Dylan Moyer. Dylan is a close friend of mine. We attended Illinois State together, lived together, and were Alpha Gamma Rho brothers. It has been amazing to see him grow and develop himself as a professional in the agriculture industry.
I asked Dylan to introduce himself and he said,
“I grew up in Carlyle, IL on a dairy farm and went to Carlyle High school. I was involved with FFA, 4H, dairy bowl, and showed dairy cattle.”
Even though I knew a lot about his college experience, I wanted him to provide the reader with a look into his college experience and give a little advice and he said,
“My time in college was a pivotal time that shaped my career and outlook of how I see the agricultural industry and my trajectory of where I want to take my career. I truly feel like the advisors and my fellow collegiate colleagues broadened the way I see the industry. Through college I saw it important to put myself out there being involved in RSO's that helped to develop that broadening through connections and like-minded individuals. Through my advisors they pushed me to apply for scholarships, and organizations for career fairs and meetings with industry leaders. I encourage anyone looking to attend college to push themselves and to take that first step of putting themselves out there.”
I asked him how did you prepare to get a job,
“I prepped by looking over several interview and situational questions that could be asked in an interview. I also attended several career fairs and used past experiences to lean on to play to my advantages to attain that job.”
I asked Dylan what he currently does,
“Currently, I work for Bunge North America as a grain merchandiser. In this role I purchase grain from farmers, I analyze the market to form an educated opinion of the fundamental and technical side of the market. I also play a key role in the forecasting of my facilities logistics play whether shipping domestic or internationally which best fits the PNL of the facility.”
I asked Dylan where does he see himself in 5 or 10 years,
“Next 5-10 years I see myself as a regional manager and past that as a vice president within an organization.”
Finally, I asked Dylan’s opinion on what does the future of Agriculture hold for us,
“I think agriculture is at a pivotal turn realizing the different ramifications of COVID-19 and how people can manage to work remotely and abroad. With the use of technology, I see less people in the "office" and more at home because we are so connected. I think the role of technology will continue to link and further push agriculture to become economically and sustainable for the future so producers can spend more time on other key aspects of their operation.”
I thanked Dylan for his time and with individuals like him coming into the agriculture industry, our future, as an industry is bright. I would like to thank the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois for the continued support of myself and others.
This is Wade Hutchens signing off. Thank you for reading, and may your yields be bountiful and your livestock healthy.