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Master of Agribusiness

Growing the Footprint of Traditional Grain Origination

Dustin Ploeger, Glenwood, Iowa, defended his thesis, “Growing the Footprint of a Traditional Grain Origination,” December 16, 2010.  Ploeger is a Grain Origination Specialist with Cargill AgHorizon’s in Council Bluffs, IA.  He graduated from Kansas State University in December with a Master’s in Agribusiness (MAB). 

Cargill currently offers risk management products and solutions to farmers within close proximity to existing Cargill grain facilities. The possibility of offering their services to farmers in other areas could be a way to expand their customer base and offer valuable marketing tools to farmers. Ploeger conducted surveys of grain producers in areas not currently selling to his grain facility in Council Bluffs to determine if there is demand for Cargill’s marketing solutions to be used by producers when delivering to grain facilities not owned or operated by Cargill

“Given the experience of sales professionals offering our risk management products and marketing solutions, there are three common variables of farmers who may find value with what we have to offer,” Ploeger said. “The size of the farming operations, the number of facilities they deliver grain to, and the importance they place on forward marketing are critical components to determine whether a farming operation may market grain through Cargill’s Flex Delivery Program using  our value-added grain marketing tools.” 

The  result of his survey has allowed Cargill to confidently expand their coverage area and has also provided information about geographic tendencies and farmer demographics in the area.

Allen Featherstone, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Ploeger’s thesis advisor, said, “Risk management on the part of farmers has become a much more complex issue with the increased volatility in the grain markets.  Previously, grain elevators would manage that risk for farmers by offering forward contracts for a fairly long time frame.  With the change in volatility, the reasonability of managing that risk has shifted to the farmer.  Dustin’s thesis examines the potential demand for AgHorizon’s services that are not tied to delivery of grain to a facility.  Allowing flexibility of delivery to a farmer expands the opportunities for that farmer to market a crop.  Dustin’s thesis segmented that market to allow him to understand better which producers are most likely to be interested in AgHorizon’s services. ”

The full thesis publication can be found online on K-State’s Research Exchange at http://hdl.handle.net/2097/7024.