The Texas Agricultural Extension Service is looking for a few good ag marketers wanting to hone their marketing skills to a finer edge, and who can help their neighbors do the same.

An award-winning national program will return in January and February, at the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center, in Vernon, and at the Taylor County Extension Building in Abilene.

Master Marketers is an in-depth, intensive risk management education program that teaches participants how to develop marketing plans and evaluate marketing alternatives. They also learn all the skills necessary to execute a marketing plan, and how to manage risk to improve their profitability, said a Texas A&M ag economist.

"Master Marketer training provides groups of farmers and ranchers with marketing education that pays direct dividends to their bottom line," said Stan Bevers, Texas Agricultural Extension Service economist, at Vernon. "A two-year post-program survey of the 1998 Vernon Master Marketer class suggests participants were able to increase their annual gross revenues by as much as $33,000, or 5 to 10%, simply by applying their new-found marketing skills and knowledge.

"This 64-hour curriculum is offered as four two-day sessions, held every two weeks. The instructors are top professionals from industry and universities around the country. They cover a wide range of topics, using case study examples and simulation exercises to provide the students experience with real tools they can use in their own operations.

Registration for the program costs $250 per person, plus a commitment to help county agents organize a county marketing club. In this way, graduates pass their newly acquired marketing skills and expertise on to others. This is an effective way for Extension and other program sponsors to spread the training across a large group of participants, Bevers said.

The first 2001 session at Vernon is scheduled Jan. 16 and 17, with subsequent sessions slated Jan. 30 and 31, Feb. 13 and 14 and Feb. 27 and 28. The first Abilene session occurs Jan. 17 and 18, with subsequent sessions Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, Feb. 14 and 15 and Feb. 28 and March 1.

Registration fees pay for only a small portion of the program's cost. Grants from Extension partners, such as the Texas Corn Producers Board, Texas Wheat Producers Association, Texas Farm Bureau, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Cotton Incorporated and agribusinesses, also help fund the program.

Texans can get registration forms or more information on the 2001 Master Marketers Program, at Vernon and Abilene, by calling Bevers, at 940-552-9941, or from their county Extension staff.

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