In the last 10 years, U.S. farmers have found themselves more and more at the mercy of the global marketplace. These days, U.S. cotton, soybean and corn producers can be affected more by a drought in China or India than one in their own country.

Now U.S. crop consultants are beginning to see their businesses take on more of a global perspective as they reach out to other consultants and try to help their growers navigate through a minefield of marketing and regulatory issues.

“People in my own organization used to come up and ask me, ‘Why do you do all this traveling?” said Allen Scobie, a crop consultant from Scotland, who has become a fixture at the annual meetings of the U.S.-based National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants. “Why do you go to America and these other places?

“I tell them it’s because of the contacts I make,” said Scobie, who works with Bridgend Consultancy Services in Dundee in Scotland. “And it’s because of what I learn about my profession and about agriculture.”

Scobie first came to speak to the NAICC as president of the Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants or AICC, the NAICC’s counterpart in the United Kingdom. He’s been coming back almost every year. This year he was joined by Patrick Stephenson, a crop consultant from Pickering, North Yorkshire, in the UK.

Earlier this year, they and members of the NAICC, AICC and the Pole Du Counseil Independent Agriculture or PCIA in France helped form a new organization called the Global Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants. Scobie said the group grew out of a need to have a more formal means of exchanging information between consultants.

“There are so many things happening in the world that affect farmers,” said Scobie, who also works in the Ukraine in the former Soviet Union and in other parts of the world. “Sometimes, those events can have a major impact on their bottom line.”

Last summer, Scobie was traveling in the Ukraine, compiling a report on crop conditions and agronomic practices for his employer when he became aware of the dry conditions that were beginning to take a toll on the region’s wheat crop.

“I came back and told my farmers, ‘Don’t sell your wheat, prices are going to rise,’” he said. “They paid attention and didn’t sell, and when the impact of the drought in Russia and the Ukraine became better known, wheat prices rose significantly.