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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

January 10, 2024 - 9:00am --

I know I am not the first but allow me to wish everyone a Happy New Year.  We spent a quiet evening at home this year.  My daughter Olivia spent New Year’s with my brother in West Virginia.  She called around 10:00 PM because everyone there had already gone to bed and she was bored.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her we were also headed to bed early.  I can’t remember the last time I stayed up late enough to see the ball drop.  Jessica on the other hand, got to stay up after midnight talking to her, while I got to call it a night.

I want to take this week’s article to pitch our Professional Marketer School that will be taking place beginning February 1st at the Buckeye Ag Museum.  My inspiration for the program came almost 15 years ago when I worked in Fayette County.  I had a producer lament to me about the amount of time he spent trying to find ways to save money within his operation.  Although he was joking, he followed up his statement by saying, “I can’t tell you how much time I spend trying to save five percent on my expenses.  If I put that much time into my marketing, who knows how much more I could make.”

It is easy to see where he was coming from.  Think about the number of meetings we attend to help us deal with production risks.  We will sit with the seed salesman and learn about their new seed treatments or traits that can gain another 5 to 10 bushels.  We will work with our cooperative to outline a spray program to tackle those nuisance weeds, or make a huge investment to improve drainage on our lands.  While you can’t sell a crop you can’t grow, how much time do you devote to improving your marketing skills to get the top dollar for your product?

I was just reading an article from the University of Illinios-Farmdoc program that indicated that the corn futures market saw its largest yearly price drop in a decade during 2023.  The 31% contract price decline of corn overshadowed the 21% decrease in wheat and 15% decrease in soybeans.  Most of the pressures that caused this decline will still be present in 2024 and it will be important to continue to focus on input saving, but it also highlights the need to sharpen up your marketing skills.

Five sessions markets, budgets, ag policies

The 2024 Professional Marketer Program is a 5-session marketing school that will be held one day each week during the month of February.  We are very excited about the speaker lineup.  The first day, February 1st, is Leveling day.  I will be providing a benchmark discussion of the basic working of the futures and options markets for hedging and how to develop a marketing plan.  February 7th is our Foundation day.  We have Barry Ward, David Marrison, and Eric Richer from Ohio State University to discuss budgeting, family living expenses and crop insurance.  Evan Hahn from Farm Credit will also speak about working with your lender.

The third day is Policy Day.  On February 14th we have Ian Sheldon and Seungki Lee from Ohio State University discussing international ag policy and providing a grains outlook for 2024.  Nationally renowned livestock marketing specialist Nevil Speers will covering livestock policy and outlook.  Chris Wolf from Cornell will be providing our dairy market outlook for 2024.  We will also have Aaron Wilson, OSU Climate and Weather Specialist, to talk about climate trends.

The rubber will meet the road on February 22nd.  This will be Strategies day.  We have Alan Brugler to provide an in depth talk on technical market analysis.  Kenny Burdine from the University of Kentucky will be providing marketing strategies for beef cattle, and Lindsay Rettig from Kalmbach feeds will cover grain marketing strategies.  Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Dairy Specialist, will cover milk marketing to finish up the day.

The final day of the program on February 29th is our wrap up session.  There will be topics on mental health and how to be a better boss.  Robert Moore, OSU Extension Legal Expert, will discuss whole farm insurance considerations.  The program will conclude with an update of the status of the Farm Bill with Jack Irvin from Ohio Farm Bureau.  At the end of each session we will take time to work on developing a marketing plan for your operations. 

The cost of the program is $150 and covers course materials, lunch, and break refreshments each day.  You can register at or by calling the Wayne County Extension Office at 330-264-8722.

Additionally, We have scheduled our annual Private Pesticide and Fertilizer Applicators Recertification programs for 2024, and are taking reservations.  The first program will be held in conjunction with the Ag Pro Expo at Harvest Ridge Fairgrounds in Millersburg on January 25th.  Our first Wayne County session will be at Drake Park, in West Salem on February 9th.  You should have received a listing of all programs from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, and you can find our list on our website (  The cost of each program is $35 for pesticide recertification and $15 for fertilizer payable the day of the program.  As a reminder, this charge is separate from the $30 you are required to pay the Department of Agriculture.  You should mail that to the ODA with your renewal application.  As always, If you have questions about our programs please feel free to contact me at the OSU Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722, or email me at