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Business of buying department

Think positive "Farmers' return must come from the marketplace, not our neighbors or the federal government. Today, we must stop being part of the problem and become the solution." - Paul Olson, National Farmers Organization vice president, urging annual convention goers to remain positive in the face of adversity

Cooperatives form Agriliance Agriliance LLC is the new name of the agronomy marketing joint venture between Land O'Lakes, Cenex Harvest States Cooperatives and Farmland Industries. It will be the largest North American crop input provider, selling 15 million tons of crop nutrients, $1.7 billion crop protection products and $300 million Croplan Genetics seed. The joint venture was not contingent on the Farmland and Cenex Harvest States unification, which was not approved.

Agriliance will be equally owned and governed by Land O'Lakes and by a Cenex Harvest States/Farmland LLC. Marketing and sales offices for the new company will be in St. Paul, MN, and Kansas City, MO.

Equipment merger costs jobs Mergers come at a price. In the case of the merger between Case Corporation and New Holland to create CNH Global, the price will be the elimination of 7,000 jobs worldwide and closure of 20% of the new company's manufacturing plants and one-third of its parts depots. The maker of farm and construction equipment recently announced these cutbacks from its Racine, WI, headquarters. The reductions, which should be completed by 2002, are part of the company's plan to save $400 to $500 million annually over the next three to four years.

Order UAP products online United Agri Products (UAP) plans to increase its online services to allow suppliers and customers to conduct business online. UAP, a ConAgra company, reports that customers should now be able to place product orders, make inquiries and obtain product availability and technical data through its Web site The site should include a product database by the end of this month.

Biosafety clause hurts U.S. exports The European Union (EU) recently released its position on the "precautionary principle" of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety treaty, which now has been ratified by 135 countries (see "Lowdown on product labeling," Mid-February, page 17).

The protocol principle states that "potentially dangerous activities can be restricted or prohibited even before they can be scientifically proven to cause serious damage."

The EU says that it will use this principle in deciding environmental, food safety and health issues, and it has directed its risk managers to use a proportionate, nondiscriminatory and consistent approach when evaluating the possible risks of products. The EU is expected to apply the principle to U.S. beef because it is produced with genetically modified grain, antibiotics and hormones.

U.S. officials, on the other hand, point to the "savings clause" of the biosafety treaty, which states that the pact does not override rules of the World Trade Organization that require countries to base food import rules on "sound science."

Yes, you need a resume Everyone needs a resume, even a grower. A resume can help you sell yourself to prospective landlords or lenders. Joe Parcell, University of Missouri extension, offers some tips for putting together a resume: * Describe how and when your farm business was established, list family members and their contributions to the farm, and describe your community activities. * Write a brief statement about your management objectives for the future. * Detail your experience, including how long you have farmed, number of acres, special training and skills, and licenses. * List your farm equipment and include how it improves efficiency or helps the environment. * Write a statement about your position on soil management, precision agriculture and biotechnology. * Include your risk management strategies, from crop insurance and forward pricing to the futures markets. * Be sure to provide insurance coverage and limits. * List businesses and people who know and do business with you as references. Be sure to obtain their permission. * Include any other information, such as a photo of your farm, that will help show how you care for your business.

Food labeling ... The Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) (www.gmabrands. com), speaking on behalf of 35 leading trade associations, recently sent a letter to Congress urging opposition to a mandatory labeling bill sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). The letter states that the legislation "would have far-reaching consequences for U.S. farmers and for U.S. Agribusiness, and would result in consumer confusion, not consumer education." It cites the strict regulatory hurdles of three U.S. governmental agencies that products must clear and the current labeling that is mandatory if genetically modified products differ from traditional products in composition, nutrition or allergenicity.

This large group fully supports a consumer's choice to buy products produced without modern biotechnology. However, GMA and other groups believe that mandating special labeling as proposed (for all biotech foods, food ingredients, dietary supplements, feed and products from animals fed biotech feed) would imply to consumers that these products are somehow different or less safe than other products.

The American Frozen Foods Institute (AFFI), in a January letter to FDA, stated that it supports the agency's current policy on biotech food regulation. The institute, comprised of 581 corporate members that produce 90% of all frozen foods in America, appealed to FDA to refrain from mandating additional labeling requirements that threaten to jeopardize the public's perception of the safety of foods derived from biotechnology.

In a recent editorial on food labeling in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, this message stood out: "In a free society and a free market...consumers get to be as rational or irrational as they please. They can reject a frozen pizza because of its cholesterol stats, a whole-grain pasta because it smacks of sand, a brand of coffee associated with deforestation or a packaged dinner because the picture isn't very appetizing. What they insist upon is information. By withholding it, the biotech companies are simply inviting the public to take its business, and its confidence, elsewhere."

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