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Matt Roberts

Matt Roberts, Ph.D.

An expert in Ag, commodity markets, energy issues and biofuels, Roberts taught at Ohio State before starting his consulting company.

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Price range

  • $5,000 - $7,500
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Expert

  • Ag Policy
  • Agriculture
  • Commodity Price Outlook
  • Economy
  • Farm Bill
  • Generational Issues
  • Marketing/Merchandising
  • Outlook
  • Risk Management
  • Trends
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Experience

  • Agriculture
  • Automotive
  • Banking
  • Education
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Career

  • 15 Years
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  • About

    Commodity Broker turned Professor turned Entrepreneur turned Speaker, Dr. Matt Roberts has shared his outlook on grain, energy and macro markets over 600 times around the country since starting at Ohio State in 2001. After leaving Ohio State in 2016, he started his consulting company, The Kernmantle Group.

    Dr. Roberts’ energy is matched only by his ability to break down the complex issues of the day and communicate them in an engaging and memorable manner that your audience won’t forget. When it comes to controversial topics, you’ll be amazed at Dr. Roberts’ ability to challenge your audience’s thinking in a friendly and non-confrontational way, honed by 15 years in front of farmers from around the world, talking about everything from the impacts of biofuels to the economics of cap-and-trade to the challenges we face as a society in providing health care. Dr. Roberts’ presentations combine the passion of the Baptist preachers of his youth with the knowledge of a Land Grant Agricultural Economist and the wisdom of accumulated over 25 years as a salesman, broker, trader, dad, grandpa, and husband.

    Matt is a native of Bolivar, MO, where he grew up in the markets, opening his first online trading account in 1986 (that’s not a typo!), trading stocks from the back room of the family Chevrolet Dealership. By 1996, Matt was a commodity and energy derivatives broker in the Vienna, Austria office of CA Global Futures. Matt has traded or brokered almost everything, from azuki beans to Waste Management shares—stocks, bonds, futures, options, and over-the-counter derivatives. Complementing his market experience, Dr. Roberts spent 9 months in the Office of the Chief Economist at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in Washington, DC, sitting in on enforcement and rule-making at the center of today’s markets.

    When it comes to the markets, Dr. Roberts is an active researcher, consultant and speaker, and has been quoted in The Economist, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, has appeared on CNBC and is a frequent contributor to AgDay TV. Dr. Roberts taught economics and grain marketing at The Ohio State University for 15 years, publishing in multiple journals on technical analysis, commodity markets, and electricity markets. Dr. Roberts is not just a teacher of business. He is also co-owner of Vertical Adventures, a chain of indoor rock climbing gyms in Central Ohio, for which he has negotiated multiple debt, equity, and real estate transactions. Dr. Roberts is currently serving his second term as a Director of USA Climbing, the US Olympic Committee-recognized National Governing Body of Competition Climbing in the US.

  • Videos
  • Program

    Keynote OR Breakout | Educational | Humorous | Technical

    Dr. Roberts delivers a fast-paced, entertaining, and comprehensive review of the current supply and demand situation for grains and oilseeds in the US and the world, what that means for prices, and how growers can best take advantage of these trends in their own marketing decisions. 

    Keynote | Educational | Humorous | Technical

    The years 2006-2012 will always be remembered by those in the commodity markets. Strong demand for all commodities drove prices to never before seen heights. Those high prices and the resulting profitability drove investment decisions and policy choices long enough to create real obstacles to readjusting when the inevitable crash came. Dr. Roberts starts by explaining why commodities—all commodities, whether corn, soybeans, milk, beef, oil or copper—will always have booms and busts, what it will take to end the current bust, and what producers and/or end-users need to do right now to make it through, as well as what they need to remember the next time around. This talk inevitably combines strategy and finance with the market conditions and near and intermediate-term outlook for the industry at hand. This topic is applicable to agricultural commodities and fossil fuels, as well as lenders and suppliers. Dr. Roberts’ expertise and background makes this a particularly powerful talk for farmers and small businesses, as the realities of marriage and relationships make management even harder.

    Keynote OR Breakout | Audience Participation | Educational | Technical

    Understanding lending from a guy who approves loans. As a Professor, then small business owner, and now community bank director, Matt Roberts has taught the theory of lending, successfully negotiated $2.5m in loans, and now sits on the loan committee for Sutton Bank in Attica, OH. In this entertaining yet highly educational talk, Matt will share with the audience what he wished he knew when negotiating with the bank—how loans are made, why lenders seem to be so irrational, and how you can maximize your chance of Getting That Loan.

    Keynote OR Breakout | Educational | Humorous | Technical

    Dr. Roberts will explain in simple yet entertaining terms how the economy is actually doing, down to the sector and/or regional level if needed, and what it means for your clients. These talks include interest rates, exchange rates, income growth, and how policy decisions will or won’t affect it. Given the election results of 2016, Dr. Roberts can also discuss the winners and losers from trade, the policies that we do, and don’t need, and how trade has fundamentally transformed the lives of every American, from the mom-to-be craving cantaloupe in January to the real reason that we don’t produce iPhones in America.

    Keynote OR Breakout | Audience Participation | Educational | Technical

    Agriculture is the only place where you can be in your late 40’s and still considered ‘young’ but that is the demographics of farmers in the 21st century. As we move into the 3rd decade, we are seeing an increasingly rapid transition of farms to GenX and more and more startup farms run by Millennials. The different world that each of these generations grew up in means that how they relate to the world, and to work, is very different than the generations that have built today’s agricultural world. GenX grew up with computers whereas Millennials grew up with the ever-presence of computers; GenX remember the family’s first computer, Millennials remember when they first got a smart phone. 
    What hasn’t changed:
    —Farming is the single most complex small business in America.
    —Farming is extremely capital intensive and requires an intimate relationship between farm and bank.
    What has changed:
    —Farming is extremely competitive in order to keep and grow land
    —Young Farmers are used to having all of their consumer goods at their fingertips (think Amazon) so why not their business needs, too.
    —Young Farmers are more cynical toward bundled ‘advice’—they see it as self-serving marketing (ever more, for example, with co-ops)
    —Young Farmers are used to having a ‘supercomputer in their pocket’ whether Extension, Wikipedia, Market Advisors, etc.
    —Young Farmers are more than ever trying to ‘figure it out themselves’ (think of the different way in which we treat advice from Drs. now. Our grand-parents just did what the Dr. said, no matter how weird. Our parents got second opinions. We Google)
    —Young Farmers are more comfortable with change as a constant—technology has given them no choice.
    Farming itself hasn’t changed, and this generation of farmers is no more different from their predecessors than the Baby Boomers were from the Greatest Generation, but the difference is that so much of the modern Ag infrastructure has been built in the past 40 years, and so there are deeper roots in the current generation than the last time we had this type of transition.

    Keynote OR Breakout | Educational | Humorous | Technical

    Few things cause more worry among the ag industry than the rise of ‘adjectives’—local, organic, natural, free-range—in food production. Dr. Roberts will help audiences understand why consumers no longer care about ‘safe and affordable food’ and why simply trying to convince them to abandon ‘adjective-laden’ (vegan, organic, local, paleo, etc.) foods are doomed. For the ag industry, this isn’t bad news, it’s good news; as these paths provide opportunities for the agricultural industry to be more successful and profitable by reversing the trend of ever-shrinking consumer spending on food. This talk is particularly suitable for any ag or food-related audience, and includes audience participation polls to help listeners understand their role as consumers.

    Keynote

    1) From Brexit to the US Election, the topic of trade is hot again. But like so much of economics, just because trade is easy doesn’t mean it is simple. American policy-makers have spent the last 50 years negotiating free trade agreements, while economists have cheered them on, chanting ‘trade makes everyone better off.’ But if that’s the case, why are the residents of Youngstown, OH, Detroit, MI, or any one of a thousand small towns saddled with long-dormant factories so certain that the truth is entirely different. Dr. Roberts will help your audience understand how and why trade benefits countries’ economies, but also who it helps and who it hurts. Most importantly, Dr. Roberts will help the audience understand the policies that we need to pursue as a country so that everyone can benefit from the global market, not just a few. This talk is appropriate for a wide range of audiences, from civic clubs to lender meetings, and is easily specialized to address the opportunities, challenges, and policies for any industry. This talk works best with a time slot of 45-60 minutes to allow for audience Q&A.

    Keynote

    These past few years have been doozies. Between Brexit, the 2016 election, rising nationalism and anti-globalization, many world leaders and their constituents appear ready to upend the world order that has lasted since 1946, but why? Dr. Roberts will start by presenting the overwhelming case that in contrast to what many believe, the world now is more peaceful and prosperous than at any time in human history. But rapid changes in the past two decades that deepened international cooperation have left many in the rich world feeling ‘left behind’ and even overtaken by workers in the third world. But is the real truth? Are we better or worse off? Are we even still a ‘we’? Drawing on economics, demographics, psychology, and a little bit of philosophy, Dr. Roberts will lead you through the recent history of globalization, its winners and losers, particularly as it relates to rural vs. urban citizens, and what this could mean for the future of our country. 

    This talk can be adapted for a wide variety of audiences and settings but is perhaps best as an after-dinner talk, something a bit lighter, but still highly informative and thought-provoking.

    Keynote

    1) In 2016, Millennials overtook Generation X as the largest segment of the workforce, and no business can run with hiring one eventually. But to hear many speak, they are a lazy, entitled, social-media obsessed bunch of whiners, running from job to job with a phone full of photographs of their participation ribbons. Millennials, obviously, disagree, rightly citing them as the most creative, educated, socially aware generation in the history of humanity. What is the truth Dr. Roberts draws on his experiences as a father of four, a premature grandfather, fifteen years teaching and advising students at OSU, and his own experiences hiring, mentoring, leading, and firing millennials at the rock climbing gym he co-owns. In this talk, he’ll help audiences understand how the world that today’s kids have grown up in has shaped their attitudes, desires, and motivation. Through that lens, Dr. Roberts will give participants new ways to relate and motivate millennial employees. Any business audience can benefit from this talk. Although much of the context is services, the content can be adapted to include useful content for an audience’s specific industry.

    Keynote OR Breakout | Educational

    Buckle up for a high-speed, high-energy drive through the political forces and machinations that affect your agricultural business. We’re going to talk about the Farm Bill, the Fiscal Cliff, and the European Debt Crisis. With wit and wisdom, Matt will explain farm programs, regulatory changes, and interest rates–the factors your audience needs to know.

    Keynote OR Breakout

    This is a ‘big picture’ talk with (many) real-world applications for row-crop farmers. This talk is ideal for farmers or Ag Lenders. I explain how row crop agriculture has fundamentally changed in the past 5 years, increasing the opportunities for farmers, but also the dangers. I discuss the six businesses that comprise a modern grain farm: agronomist, grain elevator, custom machinery operator, land speculator, futures speculator, and capital allocator, and changes that farmers can make to each of these businesses to help ensure that their farm is a winner in the 21st century. 

    Keynote OR Breakout | Educational | Technical

    Dr. Roberts has been teaching growers and students how (and why) to create a grain marketing plan for 15 years. Drawing on extensive real-world experience and theoretical knowledge, Dr. Roberts helps producers understand what a marketing plan should and shouldn’t be, and what the most significant barriers are to implementing the plan—psychological, financial, and logistical. This can take the form of a 60-minute talk with broad principles and pointers, to a half- or all-day hands-on workshop for growers. This talk is appropriate for growers, and can range from 1 to 5 hours long. Ideally, this would be coordinated so that the growers are at least similar in marketing sophistication. 

    Breakout | Educational | Humorous | Technical

    Dr. Roberts will return to the markets where he first cut his teeth, reviewing the current state of the oil, gasoline, natural gas and diesel markets in the US, including current demand trends, global production trends, and price forecasts. Roberts will drill down to the purchasing and risk management implications for your industry in the next quarter, year, and decade.

    Breakout | Educational | Humorous | Technical

    An examination of the US biofuels market and policy with the intent of showing where we are today, how we got here, and what that means for the future. Special emphasis is placed on relating the discussion to energy security, food/crop prices, and the real winners and losers of US biofuels policy. I can also easily add in some fossil fuel outlook to this talk.

  • Review
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    “Hi Rich, Matt did an awesome job with our group. He was great to work with throughout the planning process and very accommodating to our needs and timeline. He delivered a great message to our group. He participated in several other parts of the meeting and interacted with our guests which was great! He had a nice amount of humor in his message and was enthusiastic. The survey feedback from our guest on Matt was very good.”

    WinField Solutions
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    “Dr. Roberts was great. His insight into the grain markets was probably the best we’ve had in years as he told it like it was and didn’t have an agenda to sell or promote a product or service. His sense of humor was perfect.”

    BMO Harris Bank
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    “He informed and engaged the audience. Made them laugh when he sprinkled in humor. He was all we hoped for.”

    Arizona Farm Bureau Julie M
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    “Both Matt Roberts and David Parker were GREAT and were very well received by the group. Lots of positive comments and feedback from our folks. Their energy was so good and topics relevant. Outstanding!!! Thank you!!!”

    Tremont Ag Julie N.
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    “Matt was wonderful as always. It’s a pleasure working with him and his message always plays well. It’s great to have a speaker that you can plug in after lunch and not worry about your audience dozing. :) Thanks for all of your help, always.”

    American Soybean Assoc. Chris L.
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    “Both speakers did an excellent job. Matt did a great job of covering some things happening in the rural area that needed to be covered plus some facts that are very interesting and not mentioned by the general media or anyone else. Very enlightening.”

    Longview Capital David A
Matt was wonderful as always. It’s a pleasure working with him and his message always plays well. It’s great to have a speaker that you can plug in after lunch and not worry about your audience dozing. :) Thanks for all of your help, always.
American Soybean Assoc. Chris L.