If yearly awards were handed out for information overload in agriculture, it's likely that one category would sweep the event year in and year out — crop marketing.

It seems information and advice (even the unsolicited kind) is everywhere when it comes to crop marketing: the Internet, your know-it-all brother-in-law or neighbor, the mail, over the phone and at the local coffee shop. There are more ways to sell a crop than there are soybean varieties in a seed company catalog. And market influences range from drought in South America to feed demand in Texas to the value of a dollar in Tokyo.

Despite this glut of information, however, farmers can't seem to get enough marketing information. A study on the role of market advisory services by the Agricultural Market Advisory Services (AgMAS) project, centered at the University of Illinois-Champaign, shows that farmers rate “information” and “analysis” at the top of a list of 15 reasons why they subscribe to marketing advisory services. In addition, this same study reports that roughly three out of four farmers say they check market prices “several” times a day.

It's obvious interest in marketing information is there. The question is, are you sorting out the noise and getting the information you need in the most efficient manner?

Cutting Through The Clutter

Finding information to make informed marketing decisions is no problem. There are