Table of contents

    1. Seven Steps to Better Marketing
    2. Understanding supply factors for agricultural products
    3. How demand and supply determine market price
    4. How exchange rates affect agricultural markets
    5. How interest rates affect agricultural markets
    6. How to use charting to analyse commodity markets
    7. Agriculture marketing clubs
    8. Commodity futures markets
    1. Economics and Marketing – Choosing a Commodity Broker
    2. Margin on futures contracts
    3. Options on futures – an introduction
    4. Using hedging to protect farm product prices
    5. Canola futures contract
    1. Introduction to crop marketing
    2. Basis – How cash grain prices are established
    3. Grain marketing decision grid
    4. Price pooling – How it works
    5. Crop contracts
    6. Grain storage as a marketing strategy
    7. Using producer cars to ship prairie grain
    8. Using frequency charts for marketing decisions
    9. Western Canadian grain catchment
    10. Barley and wheat marketing resources
    11. Wheat basis levels
    12. Wheat quality and protein matters
    13. Wheat pricing considerations
    14. Marketing oats in Canada
    15. US Crops – Where Are They Grown?
    1. Introduction to livestock marketing
    2. Understanding and using basis levels in cattle markets
    3. Forward contracting of cattle
    4. Understanding dressing percentage of slaughter cattle
    5. Understanding the cattle market sliding scale
    6. Predicting feeder cattle prices
    7. Breakeven analysis for feeder cattle
    8. Farm gate values for farm-raised vs purchased calves
    9. Wool marketing in Canada
    10. Marketing feeder lambs
    1. Turf and forage seed trade companies active in the Peace Region
    2. History of creeping red fescue production in the Peace River Region
    3. Alfalfa seed marketing in Canada
    4. Forage seed marketing
    5. Marketing creeping red fescue
    6. Faba bean
    7. Marketing compressed hay
    1. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – A, B
    2. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – C
    3. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – D, E
    4. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – F, G
    5. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – H, I, J, K
    6. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – L, M
    7. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – N, O
    8. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – P, Q, R
    9. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – S
    10. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – T, U
    11. Agricultural Marketing Glossary – V, W
    12. Other Marketing Related Glossaries


Marketing is planning to have what you can sell at a good price. Marketing, like most things on a well-run farm or ranch, is a well-planned management activity. Improved farm marketing means improved farm income.

See also the introductory video: Developing a Marketing Plan for Your Crops.

Steps to marketing

Step 1: Decide what to produce

A farm manager’s first marketing decision is what to produce. Which crops will you grow this year? Will you sell weaned calves, bred heifers, or finished steers?

Price is the market signal that tells farm managers what to produce. Gather price information, market outlook and price forecasts to help you decide what to produce each year.

You will also want to consider crop rotation, grazing needs and other farm specific factors.

Step 2: Understand unit cost of production

Calculate your cost per unit to identify which crops are most profitable. One tool you can use to do this is our Crop Returns Calculator. The calculator allows you to calculate production costs, breakeven points and returns to equity based on your inputs.

Step 3: Set price targets and thresholds

Determine what you think the market will give over the year and how much profit you think you can make based on your cost of production.

Calculate your breakeven price and look at your cash flow needs, such as loans and cash obligations over the next year.

Step 4: Determine timing of sales

Set price targets for each crop and market portions of your grain throughout the year to manage price risk.

Look at your cash needs, storage capacity and price patterns to determine when you should sell portions of your harvest.

Step 5: Get informed about the market

Look at basis levels, price trends and other current market information.

Price signals are covered in other sections of this guide. See also: Agricultural economics, competitiveness and statistics page.

Step 6: Consider your marketing alternatives

Marketing alternatives include:

  • selling for cash, that is, spot prices
  • pooling your grain sales with other producers to receive the average price over several months, that is, price pooling
  • using deferred delivery contracts
  • hedging using futures and options

Do not forget to consider delivery costs, premiums for quality attributes and cost of carry such as interest and storage.

For more information read A grain decision marketing tool.

Step 7: Make a marketing plan

Make a plan and stick to it.

Evaluate, review and modify your marketing plan throughout the year based on current market information.

Marketing decisions

To make good farm marketing decisions you need:

  • price information – current market cash prices and, if applicable, futures prices
  • market analysis – an explanation of what's happening in the market place, how prices changed and why they changed
  • outlook – a carefully researched opinion on what market conditions and prices are expected to be in the future
  • market strategies – one or more suggested market strategies to deal with current and expected market situations