Ag Career Profile: Futures Grain Broker


Even though his official job title is futures broker, Boyd Brooks, a Cynthiana native, says he is truly a risk management specialist who helps farmers turn a profit in an industry of financial uncertainty.

I met Boyd at the Kentucky Commodity Conference in Bowling Green. He was visiting to see several of his customers and hometown farmer friends. Even though he now hangs his hat in South Carolina, he covers the southeast territory for Palmetto Grain Brokerage.

Boyd grew up in Harrison County on a tobacco, cattle, and alfalfa farm. He said he enjoyed farm life but thought he wanted to do something different. Not too long after he began studying marketing at the University of Kentucky, however, he switched to agricultural economics.

“I figured that agriculture was a good industry to be in,” Boyd remarked. “I really wanted to manage a large farm out west. That was not in my wife’s plans, but it worked out for the best.”

Boyd said he did not know much about the movement of grain and futures when he started his job with Agrex straight out of college in 2003. He was thankful for good bosses, on-the-job training, and the opportunity the company gave him.

“I traded grain in the southeast,” he said. “I would buy corn in the Midwest and ship it to end users, mostly poultry. Most of the soybeans and wheat I purchased went to the export market. I developed a lot of customer relationships and saw a way to help more.”

Boyd said he is now more of a consultant with his current position, and he enjoys the people in agriculture more than anything.

“Everyone seems to be pretty down to earth, honest people,” he said. “Relationships build over the years, and that is why I want to stay in this industry.”

When I asked what he would have done differently to prepare for his current job, he said he would have taken a few more finance classes and learned more about markets.

“It is tough to learn this job from a book,” Boyd said. “You need to get in there and make mistakes and learn from them.”

He also advises those interested in this career should be able to multitask, make decisions quickly, and know how to talk to people. He said math skills are also important.  

“Most of my job is completed through phone calls and texts, and I’m behind a computer 90 percent of the time,” he said, “but I do get to go to meetings. In agriculture, we need to learn to develop personal relationships, which is a bad side of new technologies.”

Boyd said he believes there are opportunities in this field, especially to assist large producers.

“Budgeting and marketing are important as margins get tighter, and farmers may need help to focus on profitability instead of producing the biggest crop. I help them look at options for premiums.”

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By Jennifer Elwell