Our Story

At Firstgrain, we put the rice market first, hence the name of our service. The name comes from a saying in China, where rice was first most likely cultivated, “More precious than pearls and jade are the five grains, of which rice is first.” We publish a weekly newsletter, The Firstgrain Rice Market Strategist. The emphasis is strategy or plan. Our clients are in the rice market all year long and are forced to manage the price risk of the global rice markets. We help them plan their buying or selling strategies.

Equally important, we help our rice clients to think strategically about the world and US rice markets. Rice is a small part of the grain market picture in the US. Unlike corn or beans, the US is also a tiny part of the world rice market. In fact, the total rice production in the Western Hemisphere is only 5% of the world rice market.

Rice is a subsistence crop in many parts of the world; hence it is heavily supported by government rice policy. You can see this in the production in many countries. The area planted changes little year to year or grows over time as yields increase. In the US, the profit motive drives what farmers will plant. Farmers have the freedom to farm. This is not the case elsewhere where soils or rice subsidies insulates its farmers from the vagaries of the price to a considerable extent.

To understand the price of rice on your farm you need a wider reference, not just now and then but every day of your working life. We think strategically every day.


Strategic Planner that is on your side. What is strategic thinking planning you ask: A Chinese saying sums up our view of strategy: “Those who do not pay attention to the far away will have trouble in the nearby.” Strategy, as we define it is a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over an extended period of time.

If your goal is to learn about the market, then Firstgrain is your ally. The market is continually changing now more than ever. Survival today is adapting to the best modern technology and improving your selling strategy over time and every year.


  • We are not brokers of cash or futures rice.
  • Our revenue comes both from buyers as well of sellers of rice.
  • As a result, we do not advocate any view of the market to please our clientele.
  • We call it like we see it.
  • We do not enter the cash rice marketing chain, which gives us a unique perspective on rice.


Over the last three decades we have gone from exceptionally low to extremely soaring prices in 2008 and back to extremely low prices from 2008 to 2020. Now inflation is with us; and many commodities are increasing in price but not so much rice. Markets are a journey rather than a destination. The courage to act comes from a plan. For the seller it is to average the highest price each year. For the buyer it is to buy at the lowest cost. Both sides need a marketing plan. The farmer seller needs an annual selling plan whereas the buyer buys over a shorter time horizon.



What we face in the next few months and years is a world of profound change. Eric Hoffer summed it up this way, “In times of change the future belongs to the learner while the learned will find beautiful ways to cope with a world that no longer exists.” We urge our clients to become learners and not learned. Do not fall in love with your view of the market. We encourage market humility and the courage to act. The market only knows action and we show our gratitude by selling some rice or buying some rice. The only gratitude the market knows is actions taken.


LESSONS LEARNED: Sayings from the Bible about strategy!

The book of Proverbs was written by the richest man in history, King Solomon. So here are three principles that shape our strategic vision, based on the wisdom given to Solomon:

1. Do not act hastily in the market.
Proverbs 21:5

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”

2. Do not be greedy. Bulls make money, bears make money; but pigs get slaughtered.
Proverbs 16:8-9

“Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”

3. Build your business on a firm foundation of wisdom, drawing on understanding and knowledge.
Proverbs 23:3-4

“By wisdom, a house (farm or business firm) is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge, the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches”