My name is Jacy Castlebury and I am currently a junior at Western Illinois University, studying Agriculture with a minor in Economics. I am also a recipient of the 2020 GFAI Scholarship. One of the things that this scholarship has given me was pairing with a GFAI member facility to spend some time job shadowing at, and I was assigned to Western Grain Marketing. Last semester, I spent two days with Scott Sims at the Adair location and learned about the rail markets.
Last week, I spent two days with Ryan in Rushville for the second half of the job shadow program. During one of my days spent at WGM in Rushville, Ryan allowed me to listen in on WGM’s merchandiser/originator meeting, which was very interesting. One thing that I caught onto during this meeting was their concern with the supply of grain. I learned that it is nearly impossible to tell how much grain supply there is, even just locally. However, it is important for merchandisers to have a good idea of supply because it will directly affect the elevator’s position.
Ryan taught me that there are five main categories of risk management as a grain merchandiser. These categories are futures risk, basis risk, spread risk, quality risk, and counter party risk. The futures market holds the largest amount of risk, because the futures markets are always changing. Basis is not quite as risky as those will determine local bids, so most contracts will be hedged on the futures market, leaving the basis open. Spread risk is the risk associated with the changes of prices from month to month. Grain is perishable, so there is risk as the quality decreases. County party risk was the last category of risk that we discussed. He told me that for every sale, there is a buyer and a seller, and there will always be a risk that the counter party for some reason cannot follow through with their agreement.
Overall, I had a great two days job shadowing at WGM in Rushville. Ryan was a great host and I am so appreciative that he took time out of his workdays to teach me some of the basics of grain merchandising. Thank you to Ryan and his team at WGM as well as the GFAI for providing me with this wonderful experience!