Some of Harrison’s sales used a Cargill grain marketing programs. And like with those through The Andersons, none were made without a solid revenue protection foundation provided by federal crop insurance. “I can’t imagine farming without revenue crop insurance,” Harrison says.

Consultant Mock notes, “with revenue crop insurance, growers can safely begin marketing 15-20% of their crops to begin developing a marketing portfolio.

“Every marketing plan is different,” Mock says. “If a grower has 3,000 acres and no storage, it’s different than one with 3,000 acres and plenty of on-farm storage. Both should look at a reasonable return on investment and set price objectives accordingly.

“We ask a customer to show us their production plan, total acres, projected cost of production and marketing goals, then look at three or four marketing programs with diversification in mind.”

He says revenue insurance “is a subsidized put option. You can make your marketing decisions later with revenue insurance in place.”

For example, he says, if a drought-stricken grower sees his soybean production slashed to 20 bu./acre and he sells at harvest for $15/bu., he is not locked into having to deliver based on a 50-60 bu. forward contract.

The Andersons is like many grain-handling companies, in that it offers various marketing programs.

In one program for the coming year, the corn and soybean-pricing window is from Jan. 2 through Sept. 13, 2013. Cost to the farmer is about 6¢/bu. If the grains are marketed within the top third of the overall market, a 2¢ bu. performance fee for corn and 3¢/bu. for soybeans is charged.  An additional 2¢ or 3¢ performance fee is added if corn and beans are marketed in the top 10% of the market.”

“There are more marketing tools to select from than ever before,” Harrison says, who feels the consulting fees are well worth the marketing expertise they provide. “That’s why I work with a consultant. But we like to do some cash sales as well to regional ethanol plants. When the basis gets stronger and they need corn, we can deliver it at a good price.”