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Agriculture and Wall Street

Posted by Eric Brenner on August 30th, 2010

When I was a teenager, I always thought of the stock market as a crowded place with a bunch of people screaming at each other. A place where millions were made and also where lost. I never imagined that inside all that apparent chaos there was actually a logical financial frame behind the scenes. Several business, economic, finance, and accounting college courses later, topped with constant reading of financial articles have given me enough background to understand the fundamentals of it.

I am most definitely not an expert in the matter, but I have enough understanding where I can give a watered-down explanation of how it works. In general, many people hear the term stock exchange, but don’t really understand what the stock exchange is all about. A stock exchange is an organization that brings together stockbrokers and traders by giving them facilities to trade stocks, other securities and other financial instruments. For many of you this is an obvious matter, but for those who did not know, this might sound a little bit abstract. I am not really going too deep into the subject but barely cover the surface to give you an idea how it works.

The stock exchange is very similar to a grocery store and the things you see inside. In a grocery store, you will find sections like the fresh meat and fresh fish sections, the produce section, the dry goods section, etc. People come to this place to buy and sell food items. The difference is that in a stock exchange, instead of sections, there are markets that trade non-tangible transferable goods, and the markets per se are essentially not physically present inside the building. A stock exchange is a virtual marketplace where sellers, the issuing corporations or organizations, and buyers or traders, conduct business. Even though, the stock exchange and a grocery store are somehow similar, the process behind the operation of the stock exchange is way more complex.

I don’t believe there is a single descriptor that could fairly explain a career in this type of environment. Professionals in this field describe it as dynamic, fast moving, rewarding, stressful, fulfilling, exciting, and amazing all at the same time. Generally, when we think about careers in this line of work, we are inclined to associate it with business, finance, management, and economic majors, but never or almost never with agriculture.

But how does agriculture relate to stock trading?

Agriculture is related to the stock market through commodities. Practically everything that comes out of the ground such as wheat, orange juice, gold, oil, grains, etc, can be classified as a commodity. People buy and sell commodities based on speculation which have the potential for huge returns with lower than average investment, but with a much higher risk for loss. The agriculture commodity venue requires experienced investors with solid knowledge in the agricultural field.

Agricultural specialists provide current and accurate information that can make all the difference whether buying or selling commodities. Some of the information comes from different sources of data, and some of the decisions are made by forecasting market behaviors based on criteria that could positively or negatively affect commodities. By collecting and disseminating the right information in a timely manner, commodity traders position themselves in today’s diverse agricultural markets to make decisions that can generate profit and greatly mitigate the chances for losses.

Some professionals believe that agricultural commodity trading should be classified as a stand-alone cluster within the trading management business because of the distinctive aspects found in similar businesses that trade other types of commodities. Certain factors like multiple quality characteristics, weather conditions, unexpected events – political and economical – can affect crops and can increase the level of risk and complexity that are not found in more standardized or generic products.

Commodity traders constantly need to adjust the approach to agricultural production, marketing, and distribution to be able to compete in national, regional, and international markets. Traditional commodities like bananas, coffee, and sugar are no longer assured of guaranteed prices and ready access to international markets. The decisions based on speculations and uncertainties for this market require agricultural based knowledge.

Agriculture has the potential to inject professionals beyond the traditional roles. However, the current rigid and obsolete recruiting structures in our industry are doing little to expand beyond the traditional areas. Most elementary, junior high, and high school students are unaware that Wall Street, the banking system, financial analysts, stock traders, lending institutions, financial institutions, commodity trading, investment banking, accounting firms, and many more jobs are reachable through agriculture majors like agribusiness, agriculture economics, agriculture development, and agriculture engineering, among others.

But why is it that potential agriculture students are not getting this kind of information early on in their formative years?

For starters, the industry has not actively engaged students to show them how diverse the industry really is. Second, school counselors usually are not aware of agriculture majors outside the production side, which limits students to certain areas in agriculture. Third, teachers are usually not aware about the broad spectrum of career paths students can pursue and are not encouraged to consider pathways outside of production agriculture. Even though the agriculture industry and universities are aware of this issue, there has not been a collective effort to revolutionize the way students are recruited into agriculture because of the incorrect perception, that agriculture is limited to farming of crops and raising livestock.

Changing people’s perspectives and the way they think about agriculture is not an easy task. Nevertheless, more than ever as an industry we need to creatively and innovatively find better ways to attract young talent. In order for our industry to grow, we have to break away from the status quo. AgForLife is committed to educate students, parents, teachers, and school counselors about career opportunities in the broad agricultural industry to encourage and recruit high school and college students to join food, and life sciences careers, and college majors that will provide rewarding and successful employment opportunities in the agriculture industry.

We have been getting a lot of positive feedback and are so pleased to know that so many people share our vision. We would be interested in hearing your story. What did you major in school? Was it in an agricultural related field? What job are you doing now or hope to do so in the future?  Share your message in the comment section and let us know or drop us a note on Facebook.

I wish you a great week. Until my next post, have a good one.

6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Agriculture and Wall Street”


  1. Cruz Behrmann

    Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…


  2. Tamekia Begor

    Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.


    • Eric Brenner

      Sorry for the late reply. Usually, we research information from different scholarly sources, and then write our blogs. For me, I usually try to plan ahead my blogs by selecting the topics that are of interest to other people. After choosing my topic, I usually spend a week or so reading and finding information about it. Once I am done writing it, I usually share with Edward and other colleagues to make sure is well written and is supported by correct data.

      To answer your question, I research the University’s library databases. There are many journals and scholarly work that I refer to. If you need help, you can email me. You can search our website for my contact info. http://www.agforlife.com. I hope this helps.


  3. Catherin Livezey

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