Growers are increasingly turning to the Internet to gather information and make business decisions, according to an opinion poll E-Markets conducted during the 2000 Commodity Classic, in Orlando, FL.

Eighty-two percent of the leading corn and soybean growers attending the event have Internet access and, of those, nearly 56% use the Web more than three times per week to gather agribusiness-related news and information.

"Growers are recognizing that the Internet and new technologies offer many benefits, including time savings and increased flexibility," says Rusty Harder, vice president of inputs and producer services, E-Markets, Inc. "Additionally, the quality of the information and services available to producers on the Internet continues to improve."

These findings were part of an opinion poll of 350 growers in Orlando by E-Markets, the leader in providing Internet-based tools and exchanges that strengthen and create new links in the agrifood value chain. In addition to Internet usage, the poll asked growers about their grain pricing strategies and where they typically turn for advice on marketing decisions.

In the opinion poll, producers discussed frustrations with current grain marketing options. Lack of quality, timely information, along with the inability to accurately predict market trends and direction were cited as the greatest sources of aggravation.

E-Markets has unveiled a new grain contracting and risk management tool, Decision Rule Contracts (DRC), that will help producers alleviate some of these pricing concerns.

"Producers are frustrated by the uncertainty that comes with grain marketing," Harder says. "We know they are looking for ways to eliminate the guesswork in making pricing decisions. In response to that, we have developed a tool that automates marketing decisions based on the producer's own predetermined pricing strategy."

Currently, many producers look to market advisory services to guide their pricing decisions. In fact, 50% of those producers polled rely most on market advisory services when determining their pricing strategies. Another 20% base decisions on historical market trends. The poll also revealed that growers typically decide their grain pricing strategies during seasonal market rallies.

E-Markets web site provides updated agribusiness news and daily market analysis, and the site's DRC Simulation tool provides 30 years of historical market data to help growers plan marketing strategies. Additionally, DRC allows growers to take better advantage of those seasonal rallies by offering contracts that ride a market rally and automatically sell the predetermined amount of grain at the first market downturn.

E-Markets is the online marketplace for the agrifood industry and serves more than 14,000 agrifood companies, grain elevators and producers. E-Markets' Web site, at www.e-markets.com, receives more than 50,000 hits each day. Last year, approximately $500 million was transacted on the site. Since 1996, E-Markets has been connecting buyers and sellers of agricultural products and provides access to detailed, up-to-the-minute market information through the Internet, helping both groups make better, more informed and more profitable business decisions.

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