This last month I had the privilege of conducting an interview with Justin Burke to learn more about the grain and feed industry. Justin is a Grain Merchandiser for FS Grain in Morris. There his duties include the selling of grain to the different markets available to him at his northern Illinois location. Some of these markets include container, river, ethanol, or rail. Justin also oversees FS Grain’s hedging platform to manage the risk of the company.
After learning about his position, I asked about his history within the agriculture industry. Justin grew up a few miles away from me in northern Illinois on a family grain operation. While attending Western Illinois University he got his first experience working for the GROWMARK system while interning as a crop scout for Ag View FS. Upon graduation, he started his career at Ag Land FS. After a few years there he started working for Maplehurst Farms before taking on his current position. In these two positions, he worked in more of an elevator operations role as well as buying grain from farmers. Although he enjoyed his time learning in these roles he loves working as a grain merchandiser. When asked why, he responded by saying it is due to the constant change of the markets. With factors in the market always changing so does the prices. You never know what your day is going to be like.
During our interview, I also asked him how he was trained and how he continues to learn. When coming to FS Grain Justin used a lot of his prior experience to be successful. Soon after starting he was beginning his role. He learned by doing and what he didn’t know he asked others for their advice. This mentality has made him a successful grain merchandiser for the 23 different FS Grain locations he sells for. In the future, he plans to continue to learn more about the different markets available to sell to.
When asked about why he choose FS Grain he said it was the culture of the company. He loved being part of a large company with many entities but wanted the small company connection. Being a part of FS Grain provides him this. Because GROWMARK is a cooperative he feels it has a greater connection with the farmers they work with.
I enjoyed getting to know Justin and his experience at FS Grain better. It was interesting to learn about the position from his perspective.