When a Master Marketer class is offered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, seats fill up fast. That’s because the program, celebrating its 20th anniversary, is making a difference in farm operators’ bottom line, according to attendees and coordinators.
Dr. Steve Amosson, AgriLife Extension economist in Amarillo, initiated the first training in 1996 and hosted the 27th training in Amarillo this year. Graduation of the 62 class members is March 3.
During the past 20 years, the program has offered agricultural producers a way to develop better risk management skills to deal with price volatility year in and year out, Amosson said. It has been conducted around the state in a format of a 64-hour curriculum covered in four two-day sessions held two weeks apart.
The format was suggested by a producer focus group and has worked quite well over the years, he said. While the content remains the same, the commodity emphasis of each program changes to fit the area of the state where it is being held.
AgriLife faculty provide a majority of course instruction, however, their efforts are complemented by a number of outside experts brought in from around the country to give their perspectives and guidance, Amosson said.
We wanted to provide participants with the opportunity to hear from professionals they may have only read about, in an effort to provide them the best educational experience possible,” he said.Producers and industry have embraced the program because it is making a difference, confirmed by the repeated attendance by individuals and the requests for the award-winning training, Amosson said. More than a dozen of the current participants are past graduates. Also, other states are now conducting similar programs patterned after the Master Marketer program.
Janet Tregellas, a producer from Booker who attended the first training and has repeated it three times, said, “We acquired the tools to prosper in the transitional environment that unfortunately has eliminated the uninformed.
“Dr. Amosson and the team continue to address the issues that will define success in Texas agriculture for the upcoming leaner years. Producers must stay up to date to remain profitable as margins narrow.”
In addition to Amosson, the original AgriLife Extension training team consisted of economists Dr. Mark Waller of College Station; Stan Bevers of Vernon; and Dr. Jackie Smith of Lubbock. Currently, Dr. Mark Welch, AgriLife Extension economist in grain marketing and policy in College Station serves as the statewide director of the program.
Annual program sponsors and underwriters include the Texas Corn Producers Board, Texas Wheat Producers Board, Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Board, the Cotton State Support Committee, Texas Farm Bureau, the Risk Management Agency and AgriLife Extension. In addition, several agribusinesses serve as local sponsors to help defray costs of the program.
The program team received the Superior Service Award from AgriLife Extension in 1997, the Vice Chancellor’s Award of Excellence from Texas A&M University in 1998, and the Group Honor Award for Excellence from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2000 for “creating innovative programming to raise agricultural producers’ management skills.”
Locations of trainings over the years have included six in Amarillo, five in Vernon, four in Lubbock, two in Waco, and one each in El Campo, Plainview, San Angelo, Gainesville, Victoria, Wharton, Weslaco, Kingsville, Uvalde and Abilene.
The results have been overwhelming with capacity audiences in most locations of 40 to 60 producers, the economists said. Master Marketer has graduated more than 1,150 attendees from the 27 trainings.
In post-graduation surveys conducted two and half years after the training, graduates indicated they have increased their returns by an average of $30,000 to $35,000 annually, said Welch.
“What is important to realize is that the techniques learned in this program can be applied year after year in developing a producer’s risk management plan,” Welch said.
“The program not only has the potential to dramatically impact the bottom line of Master Marketers, but their communities as a whole,” said Waller, Texas A&M associate department head for agricultural economics.
“Increased producer income translates into more money for goods and services, multiplying throughout the local economy, over and over again,” Waller said.
For more detailed information about the Master Marketer Program, including evaluation results from previous classes and registration brochure, click here.