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Articles from 1999 In April


The high cost of consolidation

Third in a series Who owns nature?

What all of us are witnessing during the infancy of the biotechnology industry is not unlike what happened with the space race in the 1960s, or the software boom of the 1980s. It's chaotic, full of promise, and the applications of the technology seem limited only by our imagination.

But it's also very, very expensive.

"Take Monsanto," says investment banker Sano Shimoda, president of BioScience Securities. "I don't know how much they spent before they put out that first bag of biotech seed, but $1 billion is probably realistic."

That billion-dollar bag of seed, however, is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Expenses in this burgeoning industry are not measured by research and development expenditures alone: They also have to include the staggering amounts spent on litigation. From patent office interferences to lawsuits and appeals, the industry is battling over who owns nature. And that money flowing to lawyers is having a significant influence on the biotechnology industry's formation.

"Litigation is a burden on smaller companies," says David Wheat, president of the Bowditch Group, a business consulting firm located in Boston. "If you go back through Mycogen's annual reports, for example, you'll see that litigation costs were significant and they affected the company's bottom line. But for a DuPont or a Monsanto, those costs are insignificant in the grand scheme of things."

What that means, of course, is that the battle over genetic ownership already is diluting competition. It's a deep-pockets battle that is forcing industry consolidation, and many players fear that only a handful of companies eventually could control the science of genetics. "To do research in this climate, you've got to have a big legal department," says Col Seccombe, CEO of Garst Seed, "because you know that if you discover a useful gene you'll be engaged in a series of interference hearings followed by court case after court case.

"I'll even say that this is the issue that is driving industry consolidation. Within 10 years we could have only three or four corporations that control the research and make the decisions on commercialization.

"As an industry, we need to pause for a reality check. It's time to ask the appropriate questions: Is this level of consolidation a good thing? Is this the best way to go about feeding the world? Is this in the best interest of farmers and consumers?"

Who holds the pieces? The forces that are creating this concentration are both technical and philosophical. David Wheat says the technology itself is a prime factor.

"To produce any biotech product," he says, "you have to have the germ plasm, the promoters, the markers - all these different things - and no company has all the pieces. That's why acquisitions are taking place; companies are choosing to buy a technology rather than pay royalties.

"Licensing is an option, but it's very complex. To license a traditional pesticide, for example, all you have to do is work out a deal with one company. But with biotech, you have to deal with a number of different companies. And today, because of pending patents, interferences and lawsuits, no one even knows who to license the pieces from."

According to Sano Shimoda, the philosophical side of the business is not nearly as complex. "It's a battle of the giants," he says, "and no giant wants to yell 'uncle' first. They all are trying to capture and control value, which is the very heart of intellectual property ownership.

"Right now, everyone holds some pieces but no one has a defining position. So litigation will continue until the courts define the issue. At this time, no one wants to give in. They want the weak to fold because the stakes are huge."

Winners and losers. Already, the shakeout is occurring, and deep pockets rule.

"What I've been saying for the past 15 years is that winners must have access to the market," Wheat says. "They have to have strong dealer networks and everything that goes along with that.

"So while the Calgenes and Mycogens of the world were technically creative, they just couldn't bring their products to market on their own. [Mycogen was acquired by Dow AgroSciences; Calgene was acquired by Monsanto.] In the long run, the moneymakers will be companies like DuPont, Novartis, Aventis and Monsanto, which were already in the business. They know how to sell their products, they have the network to do it, and their future does not depend on a single technology or patent. It's a matter of raw horsepower."

In addition to having viable sales and distribution networks, the winners also must have money and lots of it. Shimoda uses a train analogy to explain how money begets success.

"Look at the train's engine as old business that generates cash, while the caboose represents the research effort," he explains. "Roundup is Monsanto's engine. DuPont has a tremendous franchise of products at the head of its train. And Novartis is a monster in pharmaceuticals and chemicals. The engine has to feed the caboose, until ultimately, the caboose becomes the engine.

"This does mean that some companies will run out of money. And that's why there will be a small number of companies left at the end. Today, I'd say Monsanto, DuPont/Pioneer, Novartis, Aventis, Zeneca and Dow AgroSciences are strong. The top tier includes Novartis, DuPont/Pioneer and Monsanto. One other company might get there."

In Shimoda's assessment, the industry is simply experiencing growing pains, struggling for position and economic power. It's simply how business is done. And he believes that, when all the litigation is concluded and the victors emerge, the industry will likely be pared to less than a handful of major players.

"When the period of litigation and appeals ends, and the parties see who owns the pieces, I think those that have substantive positions will cross-license technologies with each other," Shimoda says. "Maybe three companies will have the big pieces and there will be technology sharing. The real test - commercially - will be to see if companies compete in some markets, and work together in others."

Certainly, that level of concentration can cause concern. "It's a chaotic situation," says William Bullock, vice president of the Institute for Biotechnology Information, "and you really do have to wonder if this is the way anyone intended for a new technology to come out. I mean one day two companies announce that litigation is continuing, and the next day they announce a collaboration.

"For the most part, the ag biotech industry is following the pharmaceutical industry - with one important exception. You have too many entrepreneurial start-up companies on the health care side, compared with a real lack of entrepreneurial start-ups in agriculture. That does affect the breadth of research.

"I also question how much of the research effort is directed at the public's interest, and how much of it is simply developing a technology because you can. I may be missing something here, but at the end of the day is anyone in the business asking what the consumer wants?"

For Col Seccombe, though, the pace of change means you must patent and litigate or perish. "Everyone is racing each other to get their name on some piece of technology," he says, "so that when the day of judgment comes, we'll all sit down and divide up the economic power of this whole deal. If I've got a few pieces, I stay in the game. It's that simple. But you do have to wonder if this is a sensible way to develop technology."

Information

Integrated Pest Management

Information you need to practice effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is presented in Gempler's expanded 1999-2000 IPM Almanac.

The almanac includes tips on starting an IPM program, a checklist of essential IPM practices for each of several commodities, lists of related books, a dictionary of IPM and precision technology terms, field scouting forms and a directory listing more than 3,000 consultants, extension specialists and researchers.

This easy-to-understand reference book also provides information about soil sampling, management of weed and wildlife pests, and precision agriculture.

Price: $15 plus cost of shipping. Contact Gempler's, Box 270, Belleville, WI 53508, 800/382-8473.

Gempler's also has a new Web site (www.ipmalmanac.com) that offers information from its almanac and its IPM Solutions newsletter, as well as consultant and extension directories and IPM discussion groups.

Soup-to-nuts catalog

The 1999 Nasco Farm & Ranch catalog features more than 500 new products from the dairy, hog and other livestock categories.

Livestock identification, artificial insemination equipment, animal health, pharmaceutical supplies and calf rearing are some of the special sections featured. The catalog is free. Contact Nasco, Dept. FIN, Drawer N9910, Box 901, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538, 920/563-2446.

Knowledgeable services for knowledgeable farmers

Growing Knowledge from Asgrow is designed to enhance growers' ability to make profitable management decisions. It is made up of seven informational services: research from Asgrow's eight concept farms, yield data from the farms, annual crop management reports, concept farm visitors' guides that detail research at the farms, field report agronomic newsletters, Asgrow's Web site, and the computerized Seed Information System, which compares Asgrow products with competitive ones.

The seven services are free and can be found on the company's Web site at www.asgrow.com, or contact Asgrow Seed Co., Dept. FIN, 4140 114th St., Des Moines, IA 50322, 800/ 815-4545.

Equipment blue book

Farmers looking to buy or sell farm equipment can get a wealth of information from the 1999 Farm Equipment Quick Reference Guide.

Information about equipment manufactured from 1912 through the 1998 model years will help you evaluate and appraise tractors, combines, crawlers, corn heads, windrowers, balers, planters, spreaders and skid-steer loaders.

The information includes serial numbers, specifications such as horsepower and weight, average auction and asking prices, and loan values.

New option/value tables allow you to customize a value for a specific machine based on number of hours or acres used. Contact Farm Equipment Guide, Dept. FIN, Box 1115, Fort Dodge, IA 50501, 800/ 673-4763.

Buffer building

Citing value and financial payback as incentives, Buffers - Common-sense Conservation from the USDA provides good information to set you on your way to building a conservation buffer.

Explained in the booklet are the many different types of buffer strips and waterways and programs that can help with the costs. For more information, contact your local USDA Service Center.

New Web sites

Gempler's: Nutrient management, insect monitoring, weed identification and management, commodity checklists, and IPM discussion groups at www.ipmalmanac.com Monsanto: Ag news, local cash and commodity prices, weather, training, and an agriculture search engine at www.farmsource.com

Miracle crop, or bust?

Why should Canada and Europe supply U.S. companies with hemp when we could grow it here?

Proponents of industrial hemp can get carried away, and it isn't hard to get caught up in their enthusiasm. Here's why.

Hemp may be grown without expensive crop production inputs, including herbicides. Typically, large tap roots bore deeply into the ground to provide excellent soil aeration, and when the crop is rotted in the field, a nice layer of organic matter is added to the soil. Some agronomists are even suggesting that soybeans grown in a rotation following industrial hemp show a significant reduction in soybean cyst nematode.

Because of its hardiness, hemp may be grown from Texas to northern Canada, in most types of soils, with little effort.

Although growing hemp is illegal in this country, processing raw hemp into products is not. The number of products from hemp imported into the United States is staggering, so much so that some are calling hemp the "soybean of the new millennium." Environmentalists love it because the fibers are considered better for the manufacture of paper than wood fibers; they call it "treeless" paper. Hemp may be used in plastics (that biodegrade), textiles (carpets, jeans, shoes, rope, ship sails), paper and building materials, animal bedding, foods, technical products (paint, solvents, printing ink) and oil (shampoo, bath gels).

"We show that some 25,000 different products can be made from industrial hemp," states Bud Sholtz, agricultural economist and chair of the North American Industrial Hemp Council (NAIHC) in Madison, WI. "We might have lost count. The list continues to grow."

And, finally, many farmers already have the necessary equipment to plant and harvest industrial hemp. Fiber producers may use typical haying equipment, and seed producers can turn to a combine. There is little need to regear to produce the crop.

A viable crop. Is industrial hemp the "miracle crop" our nation's farmers have been searching for? "The only miracle I know of in farming is when it rains after a six-week drought," quips Andy Graves, president of the Fayette County Farm Bureau and the Kentucky Hemp Growers Co-op Association. "Is industrial hemp a viable and environmentally friendly alternative crop? That's what we're banking on."

That "we," however, does not include the federal government's Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Last year in his report "Hemp & Marijuana, Myths and Realities," Dr. David West, a commercial plant breeder in Prescott, WI, wrote: "Feral hemp, or ditchweed, is a remnant of the hemp once grown on more than 400,000 acres by U.S. farmers. It contains extremely low levels of THC [tetrahydrocannabinol], as low as .03 percent. It has no drug value....About 90 percent of the 'marijuana' being eradicated by the federal government - at great public expense - is this harmless ditchweed. Might it be that the drug enforcement agencies want to convince us that ditchweed is marijuana in order to protect their large eradication budgets?"

Changing minds. Andy Graves is trying to change the minds of such groups as the DEA and the American Farm Bureau Federation. "I'm the first farmer in my family's seven generations of farming U.S. soil who cannot and has not grown industrial hemp," he states.

Graves believes that economics and a growing demand will change that situation. "Actually, the Farm Bureau is taking a neutral stance on the issue. And that's just the way we want it," Graves says. "While the rest of the bureaucracy is trying to figure this out, we're going full speed ahead in developing a market for hemp. We're now worrying about economics and development," he adds.

Graves, who is also an NAIHC board member, notes that "the U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that outlaws the growth of industrial hemp."

The NAIHC is working with several states to research growing and developing market opportunities for industrial hemp. Kentucky, Hawaii, Illinois, Virginia, Wisconsin, Ver-mont, Colorado and North Dakota are among the many states where legislators, university researchers and farm organizations are trying to enact positive legislation.

The Minnesota Senate recently passed a bill that would allow industrial hemp to be grown on experimental or demonstration plots. Farmers would register with the state ag commission to grow it, as well as provide plot location. If the bill is approved by the Minnesota House and Gov-ernor Jesse Ventura, Minnesota will become the first state to allow the crop to be grown for industrial uses.

A million-dollar industry. Six North Dakota State University professors collaborated on a study that showed that, since 1995 when industrial hemp could first be imported into this country, imports have increased 215%. Worldwide hemp sales were $5 million in 1993 and jumped to $75 million in 1995. Hemptech, a California company that tracks the industry, estimates sales will top $600 million by 2001.

"You want economic growth?" Graves asks. "In Kentucky alone we have already developed a fish meal substitute using industrial hemp called Nutra Hemp. It's a major savings on fish meal, which quite frankly we're in danger of eradicating from our oceans. We're feeding Nutra Hemp to hogs and cattle right now at a significant savings, and we are finding we are producing livestock that is hormone-free, steroid-free and antibiotic-free. This is essentially organic beef. And right near us here in Kentucky we have a paper recycling company that has figured that it can use industrial hemp in its processing right now and have an appetite for 25,000 acres."

And this doesn't include the seed market, which Graves believes will compose the heart of Kentucky's economic gain. "Look, we're in an area where the tobacco industry is going to change. Every farmer knows the situation with corn and soybeans," Graves says. "Industrial hemp that is field retted [rotted] is so bulky after it's baled that it almost has to be processed locally. This lends itself to rural economic development by creating jobs. That is good for everyone."

Industrial hemp offers the world of commerce a variety of raw materials - long-bast fiber, medium fiber, short-core fiber, seed, seed oil and seed meal. Approximately 30% of the plant's tall, thin stalk is made up of long-bast fiber that competes so favorably with wood and cotton.

The real dope. Proponents of the legalization of industrial hemp have two main preambles: Industrial hemp is the crop for the times, and their product is not to be confused with marijuana in any way, shape or form.

Though both marijuana and industrial hemp have been categorized as Cannabis, especially by the DEA, there is a significant difference both in plant physiology and propagation.Marijuana is high in THC, the mood-altering chemical. Marijuana contains from 3 to 25% THC. Industrial hemp, on the other hand, is an "industrial-sized" headache for smokers. Not only does it have less than one-half of a percent of THC, it contains a significantly high percentage of something called cannabinoid (CBD). CBD actually blocks a marijuana high, according to West.

Growers of marijuana want buds and leaves. That's where the THC is at its highest levels. Growers of industrial hemp want stems. They aim for tall, spindly plants that stand 6 to 8 ft. high. It's the stems that contain the valuable fibers.

"Basically, marijuana is an 'inside' crop. Get it around industrial hemp," Graves says, "and it cross pollinates, and the CBD eventually overpowers the THC. That's the last thing a marijuana grower wants to have happen."

"We're not proposing the legalization of marijuana at all," snaps Sholtz. "The NAIHC is totally against that. Don't get us mixed up with that."

Actually, it was a B-grade movie that is credited with the demise of industrial hemp - that and an overreaction of a drug enforcement agency. With the end of Prohibition, a movie called Reefer Madness was released that ballyhooed the evils of marijuana. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 placed an extremely high tax on marijuana and made it effectively impossible to grow industrial hemp. Although a prewar push, Hemp for Victory, was made to help produce clothing and other materials for the war effort, by the 1950s the U.S. hemp industry was virtually dead.

What's next? Graves and others seem content with the development of the wholesale market for industrial hemp, although they would definitely prefer that the crop be grown here. "Canada started production last year, and we're importing that. More and more industries, and more and more people, are discovering the benefits of this fiber. We're just getting started. The infrastructure is beginning to emerge," Graves says.

Sholtz would prefer, if and when hemp is legalized, that growth of the infrastructure and the propagation be slow. "Somehow it must be controlled. With an open market, industrial hemp won't exist within five years. If the price is $75 per ton, if we let this go the way of corn or soybeans, the price will drop to $25 a ton and never recover. We do not want to destroy our own market before it has a chance to be developed."

Interestingly, industrial hemp has quite a strong historical significance for this nation. Sails on the ships that brought the original immigrants to this nation were made of hemp. In Jamestown and other colonies of the 1600s, "must grow" laws were passed to keep the struggling villages clothed and protected. Two of the first versions of the Declaration of Independence were printed on hemp paper, and Betsy Ross sewed the first U.S. flag with hemp. Settlers crossing the country used wagons covered with hemp tarps.

Graves asks, "And, we can't grow it here?"

For more information about industrial hemp, contact NAIHC, Box 259329, Madison, WI 53725-9329, 608/258-0243, or contact the Indus-trial Hemp Information Network at www.hemptech.com.

Machinery

Sunny introductions

Sunflower introduces four new products for planting and seedbed preparation.

Its 9420 grain drill (below) is a new two-section unit that allows center flexibility and rear viewing when folded. Its simple fold system uses no electrical switches during the fold sequence. It folds to 13 ft. 11 in. for transport and has an increased grain box capacity of up to 3 bu./ft. The drill is available in 20-, 25- and 30-ft. working widths. Circle 197.

The company's new 4411 disk ripper, with C-Flex disc blades, disks and rips your field in one pass. Blades mounted at a compound angle react quickly to obstacles in the field, according to the company. The 4411 is available in 5-, 7- or 9-shank models in 24- or 30-in. spacings.

The new 6212 Land Finisher is also a one-pass system that features a patented disc gang reel that performs four jobs: It pulverizes soils and clods, incorporates chemicals, mixes the soil and residue, and prevents lateral movement of the soil. A heavy-duty frame, which weighs almost 540 lbs./ft. of cut, maintains a uniform operating depth without bounce.Sunflower has redesigned its 3-row coil tine finishing harrow (right) to offer more residue clearance. Distance between each row of coil tines has increased from 11 to 15 in. for residue flow through. The three rows of tines are mounted separately for easy replacement, and each section can be adjusted for tine pitch, height, tilt and down pressure. Contact Sunflower Mfg., Dept. FIN, Box 566, Beloit, KS 67420, 800/748-8481.

Easy hitching

Hooking up an implement with your pickup or tractor can be as easy as 1, 2, 3 with Patington's three-piece hitching system.

The company's West Coast magnet mirror ($55) has a magnetic base that telescopes from 24 to 28 in. high. Simply put it on your implement's tongue, and while watching through your rearview mirror (or the company's 5th wheel mirror), back up until you have a connection. To help keep the implement's tongue level, the company also offers a portable tongue stand ($40) that features an adjustment range of 14 to 24 in.

Designed for pickups with a blocked view of the tail end, the 5th wheel mirror ($35) temporarily mounts to the side of your truck so you can clearly see the implement's hitch. The magnetic mirror is 6 x 9 in. and is easily adjustable. Add $5 shipping and handling. Contact Patington Inc., Dept. FIN, 2658 Eagle Ave. N.W., Oxford, IA 52322, 319/628-1020.

Faster harvest

Claas claims that its new Liner 3000 rotary rake is North America's largest rotary rake, providing thorough harvest even at high speeds.

According to the company, the implement features four rotary rakes with long, spring-steel double tines that make a clean sweep through the field without damaging uncut stubble. Rotors have 11 detachable tine arms with four double tines per arm. Front rotors retract and extend by a hydraulic ram, and rear rotors can be adjusted mechanically to match swath width. Suggested price: $46,500. Contact Claas of America Inc., Dept. FIN, 3030 Norcross Dr., Woodside Business Center, Columbus, IN 47202, 812/342-4441.

Business of buying

Precision farming system

Need help with precision farming? A new computer program from Helena Chemical Company allows not only production planning but financial planning as well. According to the company, a grower using its system can generate a plan for a specific field and transfer it into the system's budgeting module. After the grower enters input costs, the system can give cost per bushel, cost per field and cost per acre on that product.

Data from soil sampling are entered into the system through a modem or Internet access. The program then generates fertilizer recommendations or creates color-coded fertility maps. GPS yield monitoring data from the combine may be loaded into the system for analysis and mapping. Remote sensing images also may be used.

Contact Helena Chemical Co., 7137 Vista Dr., West Des Moines, IA 50266, 515/267-1030.

Grain contracts on the Internet

Crop farmers wanting to increase their participation in the food chain may find opportunities on a new Web site. The Internet site (www.e-markets. com) connects crop producers and other agribusiness professionals to the food industry. The site includes everything from the latest agricultural news to agribusiness and food industry stock price quotes. The site lists contracting opportunities and de-scribes price risk management tools. It also provides information on identity-preserved grain and oilseed contracts.

E-Markets just started NetMarket to provide a secure Web-based grain bid automation system that allows real-time cash and cash-basis price quotes.

DuPont chooses Pioneer over Monsanto

Rumored talks of a DuPont/Monsanto merger came to a screeching halt when Pioneer stepped forward and agreed to a deal with its partner on March 15. DuPont announced plans to purchase for $7.7 billion the remaining 80% of Pioneer that it did not own. The purchase continues DuPont's goal to build its life sciences position in the world marketplace.

Pioneer stockholders will receive $40/share, paid out with 45% cash and 55% in DuPont stock. The merger should be complete this summer. Combined, DuPont's ag businesses and Pioneer's seed business will produce an estimated $5 billion in annual sales.

A year ago, the two companies formed a separate joint venture company, Optimum Quality Grains. At that time, DuPont purchased 20% of Pioneer for $1.7 billion. "Before then, we knew we were good business partners and now we're convinced of it," reports Pioneer spokesperson Jerry Harrington.

The merger will assure DuPont, a chemical powerhouse, the dominant position in the crop-biotechnology industry. Pioneer dominates the North American market for hybrid seed corn with 42% of the business. According to Pioneer, its strength comes in the quality of its proprietary germ plasm, well-known brand franchise and distribution system. Together, the two companies should offer increased research capabilities in biotechnology, meaning that more new products will be developed faster.

Pioneer's Harrington says the merger brings together two distinctly different businesses, which should result in few overhead changes. Pioneer will be a wholly owned subsidiary of DuPont, keeping the Pioneer name and remaining headquartered in Des Moines, IA. It operates with 5,000 employees worldwide.

DuPont, headquartered in Wilmington, DE, operates in 70 countries with 92,000 employees.

Biotech seed marketing delayed

LibertyLink soybeans are not available to U.S. farmers for purchase this spring from AgrEvo. Although the soybeans are approved for planting and consumption in the United States, they have not been approved for import in any overseas market. Rather than risk the presence of LibertyLink soybeans in U.S. export shipments, AgrEvo decided to delay the sale of the soybeans until import clearances are received.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) lauded AgrEvo's decision. The organization has urged seed companies to obtain international clearances for importing biotechnology-derived soybean products into major export markets before releasing them in the United States. Should these soybeans enter the export market, shipments would be rejected and markets lost. ASA also is urging seed companies to implement handling and storage systems that preserve the identity of the grain to keep unapproved varieties out of the export market.

Track tractors revamped

Caterpillar updates its Challenger lineup to boost toughness and reliability.

Louisville show goers got the first glimpse of Caterpillar's efforts to beef up the performance of its Challenger 35, 45 and 55 tractors, now manufactured in DeKalb, IL.

"We've taken everything we've learned over the past four years to take these tractors to a higher level of performance," says Dave Smith, senior marketing consultant for Caterpillar Ag Products.

The biggest changes are in the track undercarriage, hydraulics and hitch. The undercarriage hosts a new idler wheel, a drive wheel with an improved pattern, and increased track tension and adjustments to keep the track going straight with less slip in heavy gumbo soils.

Hydraulic flow has been increased to 43 gpm (from 31) at a maximum pressure of 2,900 psi (up from 2,750) to handle the increased hydraulic requirements of larger equipment.

Caterpillar redesigned the 3-pt. hitch and quick hitch. The 3-pt. is 4 in. closer to the tractor for improved machine balance and productivity (with 300 lbs. less weight needed out front). In fact, Cat changed these models to use the same front weight system as its E series tractors.

The standard and wide-swing drawbars have been made stronger and more durable, with 900 to 1,200 lbs. more vertical-load capacity.

In the cab, two more power outlets have been added for a total of five to power monitors and other electrical equipment. And alternator power has been boosted to handle this need.

The Challenger 55 engine features a lower compression ratio and in-creased cooling capacity, which produce higher torque rise and increased power reserve, according to Smith.

Contact Caterpillar Ag Products Inc., Dept. FIN, 1210 1 Barber-Greene Rd., DeKalb, IL 60115, 815/756-5600.

Shop

Stick to it

A new stick welding power source from Miller Electric is perfect for small repair jobs, and it switches from AC to DC with a simple flick of a switch.

The company's new Thunderbolt XL stick welder features Accu-Set, an amperage control and indicator, located on the front of the unit for visibility and fingertip access. The unit is available in 225- or 300-amp output and 230 or 460v input. It has infinite amperage control for fine-tuned amperage. Because it can be set at increments as small as 1/2 amp, you don't have to change travel speed to get a good weld. Contact Miller Electric Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, Box 100, Lithonia, GA 30058, 800/426-4553.

Swivel screwdriver

Tighten or loosen nuts, bolts or screws, in and around tight or obstructed spots, with the Swivel Shaft bit driver from Sidewinder Products.

The driver locks into a 180 position and has a full 60 angular swivel. The tool has a removable cap for bit storage; its soft handle offers an easy, comfortable grip. It has a 1/4-in. hex drive and includes five standard 1-in. bits. Price: $10. Contact Sidewinder Products Corp., Dept. FIN, 850 Municipal Dr., Birmingham, AL 35216, 800/999-3405.

Lube it and use it

Maintain oil flow in your machinery with FS Growmark's new line of motor oils.

Suprex Gold, a premium diesel engine motor oil, is available in three viscosity grades: SAE 30, SAE 10W-30 and SAE 15W-40. Each one comes packaged in quarts or 21/2-gal. jugs (15W-40 is also available in 1-gal. containers).

Suprex, an economy oil, is offered in six grades: SAE 10W, SAE 20W-20, SAE 30, SAE 40 and SAE 15W-40, packaged in 21/2-gal. jugs (15W-40 also is available in 1-gal. containers).

The company also is introducing Super Lube Gold and Engine Guard oils. Contact FS Growmark, Dept. FIN, 1701 Towanda Ave., Bloomington, IL 61702, 309/557-6000.

Adjustable work light

These new work lights put an angle on illumination while you're working in the shop.

According to the manufacturer, Pro-Lite's fluorescent lights have a polycarbonate lens that is highly resistant to impact, unlike traditional incandescent bulbs. The Pro-Lite swivels 360, has an adjustable hook for hanging, an on/off switch in the handle and a 15-ft. cord. The Professional model has these same features with an added 10 ft. of cord and a 360-adjustable magnetic mounting clip. The Pro-Reel offers 20 ft. of retractable cord. Price: $20 to $30. Contact Alert Stamping & Mfg., Dept. FIN, 24500 Solon Rd., Bedford Heights, OH 44146, 440/232-5020.

Surefire Sharp-Fire

Put up a barn, build a deck or hang drywall quicker than you can say "sharp shooter" with Milwaukee Electric Tool's new Sharp-Fire screw shooter.

Available in many versions, the one that fits farm work best is model 6701.20, offering 0 to 2,500 rpm for rapid-fire delivery. It takes on 11/4- to 2-in. screws and features a 120v motor. Also available are screw strips with 50 screws per strip. Suggested price for the shooter: $117. Contact Milwaukee Electric Tool Co., Dept. FIN, 13135 W. Lisbon Rd., Brookfield, WI 53005, 414/783-8311.

New from the National Farm Machinery Show

Despite the current downtrends, farmers' and product makers' moods remained upbeat at this annual farm show in Louisville, KY. Check out the latest new offerings we discovered. Then dial up www.farmindustrynews.com to view even more new ideas from Louisville.

Son of Apache

Equipment Technologies has released its new Cherokee self-propelled sprayer to complement its Apache model (1997 FIN Top Product).

This stoutly built, economical, 500-gal. sprayer features hydrostatic 2-wd; a Cummins 110-hp engine; manual-adjust wheel spacing from 72 to 120 in.; crop clearance from 48 to 58 in.; heavy-duty air bag suspension; a 60- or 75-ft. fold-back boom with hydraulic accumulators; and a joystick hydrostat lever to control boom tips, foamer and on/off product flow switches. Price: $59,986. Contact Equipment Technologies LLC, Dept. FIN, 2321 Executive Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46241, 317/390-2100.

Belt track for ATVs

Want to run your ATV or sprayer over wet ground? Try the new 15-in.-wide rubber Belt Trak for your ATV or JM's Mini Floater Sprayer. The track allows you to work in wetter ground and with less compaction. JM Innovations sells the continuous-loop track for $1,000. Contact JM Innovations Inc., Dept. FIN, 9304 Hess Rd., Edwardsville, IL 62025, 618/667-6089.

Economical cultivator

The new 8325 row-crop cultivator from Orthman has a simplified design and economical price. Orthman redesigned the tail of its cultivators to reduce cost. Now the cultivator offers a simple, A-frame section with 13- x 61/2- x 6-in. gauge wheels. The tail section is combined with 20-in. coulters and forward-swept barring-off discs, which may be quickly lifted up in a storing position. Another feature of the cultivator is a wraparound parallel linkage and solid toolbar. The implement is available in sizes ranging from 4 to 24 rows with row spacing 30 in. and up. A 8-row cultivator lists for $12,000. Contact Orthman Mfg. Inc., Dept. FIN, Box B, Lexington, NE 68850, 800/658-3270, www.orthman.com.

Massey adds power shift

Although AGCO declined to release details at press time, its Massey Ferguson division showed two new series of tractors at Louisville as a prelaunch. Its 75- to 120-hp PTO 6200 series and 135- to 225-hp PTO 8200 series should reach dealerships in early summer. The 6200 tractor line features Perkins 1000 series Fastram engines, a new improved cab, plus options like 4-wd and power shuttle transmission. The larger 8200 series features the Perkins engine in the 135-hp model and an SISU/Valmet engine in the larger models. Other features include a transmission choice of a new 18F/6R electronically controlled full power shift (similar to the one in White or Allis tractors) or the 32F/32R Dynashift. A quieter cab also includes both console and integrated armrest controls. Price: not available until introduction. Contact AGCO Corp., Dept. FIN, 4205 River Green Pkwy., Duluth, GA 30096, 770/813-9200.

Precise depth control

Maintain precise soil depth even when driving over rolling corn and soybean ground with the new line of field cultivators from Kent Manufacturing. The series VI features a new floating hitch, which maintains accurate, constant depth. The new series comes in widths from 12 to 35 ft. But like the other Kent cultivators, it folds hydraulically to 13 ft. 9 in. for transport. The frame is constructed from 3- x 4-in. high-tensile tubing. The 27-ft. cultivator pictured retails for about $16,000. Contact Kent Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, Box 126, Tipton, KS 67485, 785/373-4145, e-mail Kentmfg@midusa.net.

Quest to spray

Billing it as the new millennium sprayer, Demco has redesigned a pull-type rig to handle 1,100 gal. and a 60-, 80- or 90-ft. boom. The Conquest features a total drainage tank design with stainless steel baffles for less sloshing; 60- to 120-in. infinite wheel spacing; hydraulic- or PTO-driven centrifugal pump; TeeJet 844 monitor for precise application; concise control panel with easy access to a leak-free plumbing system; 2-in. Dry-mate quick fill with digital flow meter; a 75-gal. rinse/flush tank; and a 5-gal. clean water tank. Price: $27,000 to $30,000. Contact Dethmers Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, Box 189, Boyden, IA 51234, 800/543-3626.

Easy residue flow

Drive easily through heavy crop residue with a new field cultivator from Landoll. The model 9800 field cultivator has true 6-in. spacing, six ranks of shanks and a deep frame at 153 in. These features combine to create a better residue flow, through the cultivator. It is available in sizes from 20 to 55 ft. and with either C-flex or spring-clamp, edge-bent shanks. The cultivator folds down for a narrow transport width. List prices range from $14,500 for a 27-ft. model to $25,000 for a 55-ft. model. Contact Landoll Corp., Dept. FIN, 1900 North St., Marysville, KS 66508, 800/428-5655, www.landoll.com.

Secure hitching

The new hitch pin Lockease will end your concern that pins will slip out of hitches on your implements. According to Farmer Fabrication & Welding, its new pin is the first self-positive, self-locking pin. Once the pin is in place, a spring-loaded locking pin on top keeps the pin from coming out. A large handle lifts to help remove the pin from the hitch. The steel pin is produced from materials that ensure great strength and wear. Lockease is available in sizes from 3/4 to 11/2 in. Costs range from $17.50 to $33. Smaller pins and a 2-in. pin will be available this summer. Contact SI Distributing, Dept. FIN, 03221 Barber Werner Rd., St. Marys, OH 45885, 800/368-7773.

Corn head shreds stalks

A new corn head from Germany will shred stalks while picking corn. The ROTA Disc by Geringhoff features an integrated stalk chopper that lets you eliminate a pass through the fields where you need to pull a stalk shredder.

The six-row model of the new corn head lists for $39,000. It is available for any make of combine, in rows 20 to 40 in. wide, and up to 12 rows. A monitor mounted in the combine cab will control the corn head. Contact Geringhoff U.S., Dept. FIN, 3867 E. Hwy. 12, Willmar, MN 56201-5803, 320/231-0345.

More spray time

A new pull-type sprayer allows you to apply field chemicals on windy days when other sprayers are grounded. Two powerful blower fans generate up to 78-mph air speed out the sprayer slots, preventing drift on windy days. The Commander by Hardi will also move plant canopy around to place chemicals on both sides of the leaves.

The sprayer features a Hardi diaphragm pump and comes in boom sizes of 80, 88 and 90 ft. The tank and frame are designed for a low center of gravity with a high ground clearance of 29 in. The model pictured features a 875-gal. tank, 80-ft. boom, controller, and Hardi pump; it retails for $56,200. Contact Hardi Inc., Dept. FIN, 1500 W. 76th St., Davenport, IA 52806, 319/386-1730, e-mail kdw@Hardi-US.com.

Easy hydraulic connections

Prevent dangerous squirts or coupler damage when connecting hydraulic equipment with the EasyConnect attachment. EasyConnect allows you to connect hydraulics with any amount of pressure on the ball-tipped end. Often, pressure builds up on that end and must be relieved by hitting the tip on a solid surface, which can damage the tip or spray oil. EasyConnect does not need the pressure relieved. According to the manufacturer, the hydraulic coupler fits most hydraulics on the market today. It sells for $8. Contact Schumacher Co. LC, Dept. FIN, 502 W. 1st Ave., Durant, IA 52747, 319/785-4449, www.schumacheric.com., e-mail Eckerman@netins.net.

Troubleshooting radar

If you need to check for problems in a radar system on your farm, the Radar Simulator from Agri-Tronix will help. The simulator plugs into any radar system and will indicate if radar or a monitor is the problem. A knob on the simulator dials speeds from 1 to 10 mph. The device may be used to set spray systems without moving the sprayer. Plug it into the radar system, dial up the correct speed and check the spray nozzles to make sure the flow is correct. The simulator lists for $80. A Radar Emulator with a digital readout sells for $149. Contact Agri-Tronix Corp., Dept. FIN, 2001 N. U.S. 31, Franklin, IN 46131, 800/445-5058, www.agri-tronix.com.

One-pass tillage

Prepare your field next fall in just one pass with the Dyna-Master from M & W. The new implement combines two machines into one. The subsoiling shanks from the company's Earthmaster are linked to the dual rotor system from the Dyna-Drive. The subsoil shanks reach deep to shatter compaction and improve drainage. Front coulters cut residue to prevent the shanks from plugging. The rotor system then levels the ground, breaking clods and maintaining residue. The company reports that the device will leave 58% residue on highly erodible ground. The Dyna-Master is 14 ft. 5 in. wide and 26 ft. 6 in. long. It retails for about $30,000. Contact M & W, Dept. FIN, 1020 S. Sangamon, Gibson City, IL 60936, 800/221-2855.

Putting animals at risk

Proposed FDA regulations would eliminate nearly all drugs for livestock

Someday, when a cattleman or pork producer goes to the refrigerator for a bottle of antibiotics, the shelf will be bare. New regulations proposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could eliminate nearly all antimicrobials now on the market for cattle and hogs. (Antimicrobials include most antibiotics plus other drugs like sulfa.)

No new products will replace these, either. Phar-maceutical companies won't research new antimicrobials for animals because the risk is too great that the products will never be approved for use.

What may be the ultimate outcome of this? Ironically, an unsafe food supply. FDA wants these stricter regulations to keep humans safe. It fears that the use of antimicrobials in livestock will trigger a resistant bacteria that may infect humans.

But livestock industry experts believe that the regulations go too far. They claim that producers won't have many drugs to treat their sick animals. This, in turn, means that sick animals could enter the food supply.

The resistance debate. The debate over antibiotic resistance is not new. Since the early 1970s, FDA has brought up the issue every 5 to 10 years, usually with little resolution.

This time may be different. The Animal Health Institute (AHI), representing manufacturers of animal health products, is braced for a big battle. Representatives of the institute testified before the FDA Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee about their concerns about the proposed rules. These rules have the potential to "really restrict the availability of those products," says John Keeling, AHI vice president. Such an action will "put animals and producers at risk, with no offsetting improvement in human health," Keeling asserts.

FDA's new tough rules create a framework for evaluating and ap-proving antimicrobial drugs for food-producing animals. The approval process will be stricter and considerably more expensive with on-farm trials required.

Drugs will be categorized according to importance to human health. Category 1 drugs are most important to human health, and these will not be available for use in animals.

"I don't know if there will be any antimicrobials that will not be under Category 1," reports Paul Sundberg, DVM, National Pork Producers Council. "Those are the restricted drugs and we won't have them. At this point, we don't think there is anything that will be available."

Fickle bugs. The battle over anti-microbials comes back to the fickleness of pathogens. When antimicrobials are introduced to pathogens, the pathogens begin to react, often developing different levels of resistance. But not always. Sometimes, the pathogens become more susceptible to a drug. But, Keeling notes, "antibiotic resistance is a fact of life."

The disputed question is, How much danger does the drug resistance in animals pose to human life? FDA believes a pathogen in animals will become resistant to an antimicrobial. Then people will eat food with the resistant pathogen, making them ill. Unfortunately, no antimicrobials will exist to treat the pathogen.

This scenario has never occurred. The Center for Disease Control has never documented a case where an animal drug caused a resistant food-borne pathogen to lead to a human death. Meanwhile, plenty of food-borne pathogens (not originating in animals) do cause deaths, between 2,000 and 9,000 a year. But FDA wants to make sure one caused by an animal drug never happens.

The livestock groups and AHI say they don't want a public health problem either. They just want FDA to base its regulations on science and good data, both of which, they claim, are missing in the proposed rules. Instead, they want to accurately assess the risk and then make rules to handle it.

"The bottom line here is food safety and public health," Sundberg says. "With our long history of safe drug use, we aren't ready to accept that we are the cause of all the evils of resistance. That's why we need to measure what the real risk is."