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Electronic Markets Pioneered by UI Now Include Farmers

Since the UNIVERSITY OF IOWA in 1988 first persuaded people to buy contracts on political candidates to predict election results, the idea of rewarding the best forecasters for sharing their knowledge has taken off. With its new agriculture game called Farmetrics, Bunge, a global grain marketing company, became the first grain commodity firm to use a prediction market to help make its marketing decisions. The opinion of farmers is so valuable to Bunge it offers prizes to those who regularly forecast how things on the farm will turn out. One farmer, who said he plays every week, accumulates points that he hopes to someday cash in for a vacation in Mexico or for a farm utility vehicle. Winners are those whose forecasts come closest to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's actual data.

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