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ISSUE 13  July 27, 2000



    With the world enfolding our work into the Internet more and more each day, agricultural producers can not only find out up to the minute information but can work with futures exchanges and online cash grain markets. So slow down to speed up by taking a seat in front of your computer for a quick look into cyberspace to market your grain. Some of the sites listed below were recently reviewed in the July/August issue of Farm Journal magazine and their reviews can be seen online (http://www.AgWeb.com).

    Recent new comers to the Internet include Consolidated Grain and Barge Company s Web site (http://www.cgb.com) that has contracting capabilities where you can view posted bids and delivery periods or even offer an alternate price for your crops. You simply register on the Web site. No fees are associated with online transactions.

    Looking for more land or agricultural properties worldwide? View more than 1,100 undeveloped and ag pieces of land on sale or ask a question of one of the experts online at LandandFarm (http://www.landandfarm.com).

    Want to know how others are marketing their harvest? Connect up with LocalHarvest through this Ocean Group s Web site and online farmers market (http://www.localharvest.org). Registration is free through the end of the year, so hop on the Internet train now.

    Recently, a cash grain exchange for the Kansas and Nebraska areas was opened when CyberCrop.com came online. This same cash auction Web site (http://www.cybercrop.com) is scheduled to launch throughout the Corn Belt and into the Plains states in late summer. The site allows buyers and sellers to make real-time bids, offers, and counteroffers around the clock (24 hours a day) on corn, soybeans, wheat and grain sorghum. Free to sellers of grain, the buyers pay a per-bushel transaction fee. Also on the site are news, weather and market information. Grain buyers have helped to make this neutral, independent site a success. With the initial May start, 20 grain buyers representing 207 locations had agreed to post bids on the exchange site.

    Feed your grain to cattle? A recent decision by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission now allows live cattle futures and options contracts to begin trading on the Internet. One of the first sites, FutureCom (http://www.futurecom.org) will provide exchanges so that market orders can be filled online. With lower transaction costs, a complete audit trail and no out-trades, this site with future mobility seems to be on course. Software from the site allows bids and offers to be on the docket on a first-entered basis. You have to first get an application for a free exchange membership, the rule book and trading demonstrations (mock trading so you can try your skill starting with $250,000 in mock money) are also given on the Web site so that you can be cyber smart before selling your first herd. Once a bid is made online, trades clear member accounts instantly and thus all margins must be deposited before the trades are executed. Use of encrypted E-mail confirm the order fills, complete the maintenance margin calls and then even deliver the closed out position reports. As part of your software package, a separate program automatically collects running quotes so traders don t have to stay hooked to the exchange site but do have to have their computer online for retrieval of the real-time quotes. Use of the automated trading site is predicted to lower transaction costs to 25% of traditional fees and commissions.

    A new spin on a now old idea is to connect up pocket pagers to online market prices. The pager service will notify farmers when their selected market prices are triggered and pagers with a text display will even let you monitor news and markets. One of these providers is AgWeb.com (http://www.agweb.com). You will be able to select future prices for corn, soybeans, wheat, cattle, hogs, and cotton on the Web site. As part of the service, local cash prices are also sent to your pager daily and the Web site will also begin marketing advisory services such as Pro Farmer to provide farming recommendations. Pagers allow immediate notification in rural areas where you might not be hooked to a computer but have quick access to one. Those already with a pager service can subscribe to basic market alerts and news at a lower cost than satellite services, however, you can also go through the site to get a pager and other services. This pager service and site are set for an August premiere, although the Web site is already up and going.

    All of this e-commerce was recently boosted in June when the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill that first floated through the House two years ago giving electronic signatures the same legal status as those signed on paper. Once signed by the President of the United States, farmers and ranchers will have real-time, online sale contract approvals.

    While new sounding, the ideas behind pager and Internet services have been in the works for a while. Several risk management companies and agricultural insurance companies that offer or plan to offer risk management services on the side have been considering businesses like those planned for AgWeb.com. Don t be surprised to see several companies begin offering more agricultural risk management services that are hooked into this or a similar pager and Web connection. And, with the Internet becoming available on television and in the future on the dash of your vehicle or even on the screen on your refrigerator, don't be surprised to see these companies start up with fees but eventually get into a competitive bidding war
for customers.

    Skip the refrigerator screen, take me on a quick cyber trip to the Sahara desert for a 360 degree view (http://encarta.msn.com/find/MediaMax.asp?pg=3&ti=022FD000&idx=461549359), let me pretend I am driving into the deli restaurant in Fairbanks, Alaska (http://www.dashdeli.com/articam.shtml) then shuttle me back to see how the Iowa corn is growing (http://www.iowafarmer.com/corncam/corn.html), then zap up the LDP rates for all the states and allow me to figure some marketing strategies for corn and soybeans (http://www.cardsrv6.card.iastate.edu/LDPHome.htm), and give me a better screen on the pagers or get me one of those watches Dick Tracey! Wow, what a future!

Denise McWilliams
Extension Crop Production Specialist

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