Agricultural contracts were the first futures traded in the United States. In 1848, farmers and merchants came to Chicago to set a price on grains, bringing life to the commodities markets. Today, the agricultural market is global; accessible electronically almost anywhere and used by individuals, farmers, commercial firms, large corporate companies and government institutions.
This mix of market participants has created one of the most active, liquid and vibrant markets in the world for corn, wheat, soybeans, lean hogs and live cattle. Other agricultural (Ag) commodities include lumber, milk, cheese and more.
The Agricultural markets are dependent on the supply and demand dynamics of the underlying commodity, which can shift and change based on weather conditions, politics, disease, and shipping and freight issues. Fluctuations in these factors can impact the price volatility of the markets.
Given that the world population is expected to top 9 billion people by 2050 (according to the United Nations), supply and demand will be the key factor for the agricultural markets and the food companies that depend on them.
For traders looking for a truly global market, agricultural futures is an asset class that can help diversify your portfolio.