New U of M Commodity Challenge ready for action
ST. PAUL, Minn. —bCommodity Challenge, an online grain trading game, has been redesigned and relaunched by a University of Minnesota Extension economist at the University’s Center for Farm Financial Management.
The Commodity Challenge game (www.commoditychallenge.com) features real-time cash, futures and options quotes for corn, soybeans and wheat. It offers a one-of-a-kind approach to learning about commodity markets and price risk management. It is used in high school and college classrooms, and by farmers to learn about marketing strategies. Players will find it to be intuitive and easy to navigate. Commodity Challenge was used last year by more than 1,500 people in 12 states.
For newcomers to the world of grain marketing, Commodity Challenge offers a hands-on opportunity to learn about futures and options terms and pricing tools. Commodity Challenge also introduces players to the basics of trading grain: placing orders, unwinding positions, and accounting for gains and losses.
“Commodity Challenge asks players to put themselves in the shoes of a grain producer, allowing players to experience the pain and glory of trading decisions in a risk-free environment,” said Edward Usset, Extension economist and grain marketing specialist with the Center for Farm Financial Management.
Usset adds that it’s different from other online trading games. “Other games concentrate on a speculative approach to trading—a ‘buy low, sell high’ approach. This game focuses on the use of futures and options contracts to manage price risk.”
Some decisions players face include: How will you manage price risks associated with producing grain? Will you sell grain today, or store grain to sell later? Will you establish a price using futures contracts, or buy put options to set a minimum price? Commodity Challenge offers great way to explore pricing tools and marketing strategies.
The redesigned website improves upon a successful learning experience, featuring a great new look with links to social media and a game dashboard. Game leaders will be able to monitor player decisions and progress.
The new version also features a broad selection of local cash markets. Commodity Challenge games can be customized to display nearby prices and quotes on forward contracts. Cash and forward prices are provided by GeoGrain, a service that gathers daily grain quotes from thousands of local cash markets. Futures and options quotes are provided by the major exchanges and by Telvent/DTN.
The best way to experience Commodity Challenge is to register and join an open game (a game without password protection). Players can place orders, check account actions and develop a feel for how the game works. Creating a Commodity Challenge game for groups is very easy. Send an email to Usset firstname.lastname@example.org and specify the group’s location, a start date, an end date, and specify the grains to trade (corn, soybeans, HRW wheat, SRW wheat, HRS wheat). If you have specific questions or inquiries about Commodity Challenge, direct those to Usset as well.
The first version of Commodity Challenge was launched in February 2002, as a joint project of the Montana Grain Growers Association and Kevin McNew, president of GeoGrain.com. Commodity Challenge games remain free thanks to sponsorship support from Minnesota Soybean, Farm Credit and the North Central Risk Management Education Center.