There are three ways to gain valuable knowledge about cotton prices this summer. One, you can travel to New York and attend a mock trading session at the New York Board of Trade on Thursday, July 17.

“The simulation is a neat experience for farmers to better understand how the exchange works and how prices are established,” said Pat McClatchy, executive director of the Ag Market Network, which sponsored a similar event last year.

“I've been in this business 23 years and I had never had that experience before. I thought I had seen everything in this industry.”

While you're in New York, you might as well hang around another day and listen to a panel of cotton market experts discuss the cotton market including crop conditions, domestic demand, exports and farm policy on Friday, July 18, 2003, at 7:30 a.m. central, 8:30 a.m. eastern.

Panelists will include McClatchy, Carl Anderson, Texas A&M University, O.A. Cleveland, professor emeritus, Mississippi State University, Billy Dunavant, chairman of the board/CEO, Dunavant Enterprises, Inc. and Jarral Neeper, assistant vice president, callpool operations and economics, Calcot.

Or you could just skip the Big Apple experience and listen to the latter on the Internet during a live-Web presentation of the event, on the New York Board of Trade website at www.nybot.com.

Here's what's on tap for both the road trip and the Web.

A limited number of growers can attend the mock trading session July 17, according to McClatchy. Anyone interested should call him toll-free at 888-795-8071.

According to Tom Walker, assistant vice president for marketing at NYBOT, the mock trading session “is a chance for growers to stand in the pit and see how trading is actually done. It gives you a new respect for these guys on the floor trying to fill these orders.”

The experience “gave me a better understanding of how the process works,” Senath, Mo., cotton producer Charles Parker said of last year's mock trading event. “They're all independent traders trying to make a living based on the knowledge they have at the time.”

Rubbing elbows with the men and women who discover commodity prices was revealing for Parker.

“When a cotton producer fixes some cotton, the transaction hits that floor and can make an impact on things, depending on how many bales are traded,” Parker said. “I can understand how every little trade impacts the market.”

The series of educational and informative events are designed to help cotton producers gain a better understanding of how prices are discovered as well as providing a timely update on cotton fundamentals. It augments monthly Ag Market Network teleconference updates on grain and fiber markets.

“Farmers have told us that the No. 1 area where they need help is in marketing,” McClatchy said. “The more educated a farmer can be in the area of marketing, the better off he'll be.”

The web presentation is sponsored by the New York Board of Trade, Ag Market Network, Certified FiberMax and Farm Press Publications.

Fifteen minutes prior to the presentation, a banner will be posted on the Website. Click on “Ag Market Network” to hear the live simulcast.

erobinson@primediabusiness.com