Both students and professionals now have the opportunity to enroll in a new online course in grain basis trading that will be offered in the spring semester of 2012 through the University of Arkansas Global Campus. The course is the result of a longtime collaboration between the university's Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and White Commercial Corp. of Stuart, Fla., a leading grain advisory company.

Basis trading describes the process by which grain firms use the futures market to offset price risk and to profit from merchandising grain.

Professor Andrew McKenzie in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness will team teach the class with Sherry Lorton, White Commercial's director of education. Lorton has 30 years experience in the grain industry. McKenzie has taught this material in a traditional classroom setting for the past 11 years. Lorton wrote the textbook and teaches the same material to employees of the grain industry. The move to a joint online course will enable both industry personnel and traditional college students to enroll in the course together. The course also will be available to students at other colleges and universities.

Detailed information about the course and enrollment procedures is available here.

The three-hour course is available to students or professionals who want to earn academic credit and a Certificate of Achievement in Basis Trading Administration, or for professionals who are seeking only the certificate. The White Commercial Level 1 grain merchant certification is a nationally recognized professional qualification in grain merchandising.

Class for the spring semester extends over a 14-week period, running Jan. 24 through May 2, 2012. A class orientation is available prior to the start of class, the week of Jan. 17, 2012. Learning times are flexible, but guided by a specific schedule, and students are required to view, complete and submit assignments weekly. Instructors are available for individual consultation by email and phone.

UA students may enroll in AGEC 4373 using the university’s Integrated Student Information System (ISIS). Visiting students from other institutions are encouraged to apply for admission as soon as possible to meet the university’s registration deadlines.

Don White, chairman of White Commercial, visited the campus this fall to discuss the plans with Bumpers College faculty and administration. He said the course offering would provide essential information to more students.

"The secret to the movement of all food is basis trading," White said. "Basis trading skills turn into an art that you can use in so many places. And our business has to grow. People have got to have food."

"The course provides students with a detailed working knowledge of futures markets, price risk management techniques and their application to agricultural markets," McKenzie said. "Over the years we have collaborated extensively and very successfully with White Commercial Corp. to obtain professional input and assistance in course development. Through this academic-industry partnership, the course has helped provide students with the relevant tools and skills needed to embark on a career in the grain industry."

The online format, in addition to making the class available to industry personnel, will also permit the UA Global Campus to market the class to students at targeted colleges and universities in the region and around the nation. The online format will also allow up to 40 or more students a year to take the course, up from about 25 a year who have been taking it under the traditional lecture format.

The Global Campus (School of Continuing Education and Academic Outreach) partners with other university units, businesses and organizations to offer innovative learning solutions for people seeking to maintain professional certification, boost their skills, or obtain undergraduate or graduate degrees online or off-campus. The school also offers media services, conference services and facilities, and technology and pedagogy support.

For more, see here.