I turned 60 today, and that is a hard fact not just to
admit, but to accept. God that’s old. The good news is that I am down to my
last 20 years of work and then I can rest.
Speaking of work and old age, however, I was reading a
marketing column this morning and it was a good reminder that either I still
have a lot of learning to do, or some parts of the world need to back up a bit
and go a different direction. (I am leaning towards the latter).
I have been in the writing business for 40 years and writing
about agriculture and all it’s wrinkles for the past 27 years. One of the cornerstones of journalism
is to keep it simple and/or make it simple. Being accurate, truthful, and unbiased
are nice too if you can muster it, but above all keep it simple.
Here is what I read in a farm newspaper this morning that
got me going:
“The….market saw some wide price swings during the
week, finishing with declines after testing downside resistance on a number of
occasions. On the whole, the bearish factors in the market outweigh anything
supportive, but a short-covering bounce does remain a possibility going
Well, I read that opening paragraph in the column and the
first question that bounced into my mind is “what the hell does that mean? Does
the average farmer know what that means?”
Now, I shouldn’t sell producers short. They are a very
intelligent, well-educated bunch who have considerable expertise in both
production and management. Maybe they gobble that stuff up.
And I am sure the message in that paragraph was totally
clear and succinct to the market analyst who wrote it. But, I really have to
wonder how many farmers would read that, clip it out and show their neighbors
at the coffee shop and say:
“Hey, Bob did you see that a short-covering bounce is still
“Geez, get out of here Fred,” says Bob with amazement. “I
had no idea.”
Maybe it is just me. I have said before in this column,
there have been many good marketing specialists over the years who have tried
to help me better understand marketing and marketing lingo. Colleague Brian De Kock at Dow AgroSciences
actually sent me a very attractive and detailed diagram of how marketing works,
but unfortunately so far it is as clear as a Picasso painting. I will have to
study it further.
In the meantime, I would advise any marketing specialist
writing about the markets to dummy it down a notch or two — not for the sake of
farmers, but for me. At this stage I have only enough functioning brain cells
to handle a bit of writing and golf. Keep it simple for 20 more short years and
then I won’t care what you say.
Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or
by email at [email protected]
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