Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service invite Virginia dairy farmers to attend a series of free seminars on managing risk in the dairy business. Workshops will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on six consecutive Thursdays, Oct. 15 to Nov. 19.

The six futures, assumptions, risks, and marketing (FARM) 101 workshops will address futures and options contracts, trading on the Chicago Board of Exchange, forward pricing, margin protection, and other strategies to help producers stay profitable.

"The global economic recession has caused a difficult time for many dairy farmers in Virginia and elsewhere," said Mike Roberts, agriculture and natural resources Extension agent and unit coordinator in Prince George County, Va. "These workshops will offer producers information to help them deal with the current financial climate so that they are ready when the economy rebounds."

The sessions, which will be held via teleconference, will take place at six sites in Virginia, one in North Carolina, and one in Pennsylvania:

  • Wytheville Community College in Wytheville, Va.;
  • Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) residency in Culpeper, Va.;
  • The Franklin Center for Advanced Learning and Enterprise in Rocky Mount, Va. (except on Nov. 5, when it will be at the VDOT residency in Rocky Mount);
  • VDOT residency in Edinburg, Va.;
  • Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin, Va.;
  • Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, Va.;
  • Alexander County Center, North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Taylorsville, N.C.; and
  • Lancaster Farm and Home Center in Lancaster, Pa.

Each location will have an on-site coordinator to ensure a good learning environment. Producers may choose which sessions to attend but are encouraged to attend them all.

Presenters will be located in Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin, as well as Paris, France:

  • Dan Gramza of the CME Group and president of Gramza Capital Management Inc., will discuss what futures markets are, how trade is conducted, and the difference between a hedger and a speculator during his first session. He will return for a final session on the participant's need and ability to trade, based on what they’ve learned in the previous sessions. This session will explore market prediction probability.
  • Ray Owens Sr., economist with the Richmond Federal Reserve, will give a presentation and forecast about the state of the U.S. economy.
  • David Anderson, renowned livestock analyst from Texas A&M University, will help participants understand how futures contracts work and review the role of the hedger and the speculator.
  • Scott Brown, program director of livestock and dairy at the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri, will give an update on the outlook for the U.S. dairy industry.
  • Véronique Pilet, director of the economics department in charge of studying market trends, relations between farmers and processors, and risk management for the Centre National Interprofessionnel de l'Économie Laitière (CNIEL), will feature a presentation from Paris, regarding the French and European dairy industries and economic outlooks. CNIEL is the national "cross-industry" organization that represents the interests of both dairy farmers and processors.
  • Gavin Maguire, director of EHedger LLC and a frequent CNBC contributor, oversees the firm's analysis of and commentaries on the commodities futures markets. He will focus on options trading, how it works, and who might use it.
  • Jonah Bowles, market risk analyst for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, will make a presentation on the relationship of basis and futures prices.
  • Robert Wisner, professor emeritus at Iowa State University and biofuels economist in the Agriculture Marketing Resource Center, will hold a discussion regarding farm energy, biofuels, and grain outlook.
  • Brenda Boetel, associate professor of agricultural economics at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and Extension livestock marketing specialist for the University of Wisconsin Extension System, will present on the basics of fundamental and technical analysis for commodities. She works with producers to help determine individual producer risk levels and find potential risk management options.
  • Gregory Ibendahl, associate professor of agricultural economics at Mississippi State University and Extension specialist in agricultural finance, will talk about the economic outlook for agriculture input costs.
  • Danny Klinefelter, professor and Extension economist with Texas AgriLife Extension and Texas A&M University, director of The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers, and co-director of the Texas A&M Family and Owner-Managed Business Program, will wrap up the risk management series with a presentation on the state of the U.S. farm and ranch economy.

Registration is required to get an accurate count for handouts and lunches. Farmers unable to attend FARM 101 in person may view live streaming video of each session.

For more information and a schedule of the speakers, visit the VDACS website or contact Mike Roberts at (804) 720-1993. You may register online or by phone at (804) 733-2686.

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