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John F.Kennedy, Aesop & the Carte Blanche Pool

Date Added: 21/10/2016

Blog: By Richard Elsdon, Technical Manager, United Oilseeds

It was John F Kennedy (US president 1961-63) who, in his speech to the National Ploughing Contest at Sioux Falls, South Dakota in September 1960, identified that “the farmer is the only man in our economy who has to buy everything he buys at retail, sell everything he sells at wholesale - and pay the freight both ways.”

Who else could have phrased the problem with marketing agricultural produce so succinctly?  Farmers have faced these challenges since changing from being  hunter-gatherers to embrace agriculture in around 9000 BC.

Aesop (620 BC - 564 BC) has an instructive fable that may shed some helpful light. It is called “The Boy Bathing.”  This is the tale about a boy bathing in a river who became in danger of drowning. He called out to a passing traveller for help, but instead of rescuing him, the traveller stood by and scolded him for his imprudence for going swimming when he was not a strong swimmer.  ”Oh Sir,” cried the youth, “Please help me now and scold me afterwards.”  Aesop’s moral of the story is that “Counsel without help is useless.” (In other words, telling someone where they are going wrong without providing practical advice and guidance is useless.

Let me now turn to the annual conundrum faced by every farmer producing oilseed rape. How can you extract the best return from your crop after spending eleven months (longer in Scotland) growing it? It is absolutely no use simply saying “just improve your marketing.”  United Oilseeds has taken this challenge on board and for the last 12 years and uses a method which works – the Carte Blanche Pool.

Like many of the best ideas, the principle is simple. Farmers allow us to market their crop, when we decide, usually at the end of the season. The crop is marketed a little at a time (as good sales opportunities arise). All the sales are combined and totalled and then paid to pool member growers at the end of the season.   

The results show us that this process works to consistently deliver better returns than either doing it as an individual or, in fact, as a member of any other marketing organisation. Allowing our traders to monitor the market and sell your crop when the price is right also frees growers from stress and provides you with time to concentrate on completing tasks on farm.

Our results over the past 12 years show that in all but one year growers were better off using our Carte Blanche Pool (CBP) which averaged a return per tonne of £30.41 before bonuses.  In addition, in most cases, the grower was still better off putting the crop in to store and, if he wanted to, taking an advance against the crop to improve his cash flow.

I suggest that this is a much more logical and measured approach to marketing your crop than almost any other method. We all know of farmers who have sold at the top of the market, but probably on only one occasion. The Carte Blanche Pool helps to iron out volatility and deliver a price that exceeds the market average.

By applying the sentiments of John F Kennedy and Aesop and by using our Carte Blanche Pool marketing, you will be much more likely to get a higher return for your crop.

For more information about the Carte Blanche Pool, please call us on 01380 729 200 or speak with your local United Oilseeds Area Manager.

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