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Articles from 1999 In May


Corn+Soybean Digest

June 1, 1999

Crops

Identify herbicide-resistant soybeans

Randy Raque, an Ohio plant pathologist, has a procedure that identifies Roundup-resistant fields to help put an end to spraying nonresistant crops.

By blending about 1 to 3% of yellow soybean seed with Roundup-resistant seed, crops are "marked" Roundup Ready, as you plant.

As the yellow plants emerge, they act as identifiers when a field is ready to be sprayed; when Roundup is applied, the plants are eliminated and subsequently do not produce seed. (If yellow plants do survive, they will produce beans.

Raque is now in his third year of field testing and says retailers and seed companies are showing interest.

Bulk seed handling

Offered in limited testing quantities last year, Pioneer's ProBox bulk seed-handling system is now ready for your farm. The plastic container holds 2,500 lbs. of seed (50 seed bags) and can easily be transported to the field by using a forklift. A flow-control slide and center-drain hopper bottom allows just one person to remove seed. Seamless walls offer complete seed cleanout in 30 sec. Contact Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 1150, Johnston, IA 50131, 515/334-6908.

Soybean inoculant

After testing several new soybean inoculants, Ohio State University reports that with the added cost of $1 to $2/acre in inoculation, average yields show an increase of 3 bu./acre, or, according to Dr. Jim Beurlein, extension agronomist with the university, a profit for you of about $13/acre.

According to Beurlein, the product with the highest, most consistent results (with an average yield increase of 7.1 bu./acre) was HiStick soybean inoculant, from the MicroBio company in Cambridge, England.

Beurlein's test fields were typically in a corn/soybean rotation, had good fertility and appropriate pH values. Both tilled and no-tilled fields showed good results. A 14-oz. pack of the inoculant treats 8 bu. of beans. Price: $17.30 or approximately $2 to $2.50/acre. Contact Helena Chemical Company, 6075 Poplar Ave., Suite 500, Memphis, TN 38119, 901/761-0050.

Cows preferred the taste

seven to one in a palatability test conducted at the University of Wisconsin. Dairy cows were offered a choice between hay from WL alfalfa, a Pioneer variety and a Dairyland variety. According to researcher Dr. Dave Combs, not only did the cows choose the WL variety seven to one over the competitors, they also consumed 66% more of it than the competitive products.During the two-day feeding trial, 48 cows were fed uniform rations of two brands (WL 325 HQ alfalfa and a competitive brand) after their morning milking. From a total of 96 observations, 67% of the cows demonstrated a preference for the WL brand, 24% had no preference and 9% preferred one of the other two products. Average intake per cow was 2.87 lbs. for the WL brand and 1.73 lbs. for the competitive varieties. Contact W-L Research Inc., Dept. FIN, 8701 W. U.S. Hwy. 14, Evansville, WI 53536, 608/882-4100.

Monitor and control an unlimited number of irrigation pivots that are equipped with Lindsay's Zimmatic AIMS Advance control panels when you use the company's new AIMS Telemetry, PC-based, remote control system.

Each control panel is linked by telephone or telemetry radio to your PC that is equipped with the Windows-based AIMS Telemetry software. Trips to the field are reduced because all programming, operation and monitoring functions can be performed from your office or home computer, according to the company. There are no limitations on distance: Optional cellular or land phone hookup at the pivot removes radio transmission limitations. The event-driven software displays any pivot trouble, and alarm conditions can be relayed automatically to specified phone numbers at the pivots. Contact Lindsay Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, Box 156, Lindsay, NE 68644, 800/829-5300.

Bigger capacities to chop more crop

The new FX58 and FX28 self-propelled forage harvesters from New Holland boast greater chopping capacities and more reliable performance than the FX25 and FX45 models they replace.

More cutting power. "The hottest feature of the FX58 is that it now runs a Caterpillar engine," says Phillip Wright, New Holland's FX specialist. This 525-hp, American-made engine has 75 more horsepower than its predecessor and has an electronic fuel system and electronic governor that, unlike mechanical systems, let you go from light to heavy crops without dropping in rpm.

The FX58 also features heavier drivelines and gearboxes and an improved sheer-bar-adjust system to stand up to the higher capacities.

The new FX28 carries all the same heavy-duty components as the FX58, but it has a smaller engine - a 13.8-liter, 346-hp New Holland diesel. Both models let you select from four lengths of cut.

The cutterhead on both models measures an extra-wide 30 in. to cut more crop. Knives are beveled and double-sided to provide a clean cut with less horsepower. Suggested list price: $250,000 for the FX58 and $200,000 for the FX28.

Matching windrow pickups. To match the capacity of these two new models, New Holland also has come out with three new windrow pickups: the 345W with a 10-ft. operating width, the 355W with a 12-ft. width and the 365W with a 15-ft. width.

"We made them wider and a lot more durable with more features like gauge wheels, skid shoes and rollers to take the beating of the higher horsepower of the new harvesters," Wright says. Suggested list price: $11,917 for the 345W, $16,177 for the 355W and $19,591 for the 365W. Contact New Holland, Dept. FIN, Box 1895, New Holland, PA 17557, 717/355-1371.

Information

Equipment book updates

Two handy equipment books have recently been updated: Chain Saw Service Manual and Outdoor Power Equipment Blue Book. Both are from Intertec Publishing.

The chain saw manual comprises 650 pages of repair and service information, including detailed instructions for saw chain, guide bar, sprockets and clutch, carburetor and engine repair. It lists standard information for 29 manufacturers and more than 700 models.

The power equipment Blue Book is an easy-to-use pricing and loan valuation guide covering more than 40,000 different models and 200 different manufacturers of outdoor power equipment made from 1975 to 1999. Contact Intertec Publishing, Dept. FIN, Box 12901, Overland Park, KS 66282, 800/262-1954.

Motivational tools for farm workers

Proceedings of a conference titled "Workforce Management for Farms and Horticultural Businesses: Finding, Training and Keeping Good Employees" are now available as a handbook.

This handbook will get you on the road to better employee-employer relationships by helping you recruit and hire outstanding employees and learn effective leadership skills. It also covers the legal aspects of hiring outside help with and without a contract, discrimination in the workplace and the fun-damentals of farm employment rules and regulations. Contact NRAES, Dept. FIN, 152 Riley-Robb Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, 607/255-7654.

Legal issues at hand

The University of Minnesota Extension Service is offering a new series of 15 publications about farm-related legal issues. Topics include financing the operation, production contracts, leases, mortgages and mortgage foreclosures, and even bankruptcy. Each publication is $8. Call the University of Minnesota, Distribution Center, 800/876-8636, or order through its Web site at www.extension.umn.edu/documents.

Spray products catalog

Spraying Systems' expanded catalog contains information about the company's TeeJet spray nozzles, nozzle bodies, spray guns, valves and controls.

New in the free catalog are a line of flanged valves and fittings; new drift control nozzles, such as the AI TeeJet Air Induction spray tips and the patented Turbo TeeJet spray tips; and an expanded line of controllers.

The catalog also includes sections of practical information about sprayer calibration, maintenance, drift management and other application techniques. Contact Spraying Systems Co., Dept. FIN, Box 7900, Wheaton, IL 60189, 630/665-5000.

Tire giveaway: enter to win

Fill out an official entry form at your local Firestone dealer by May 30 to register for a chance to win four brand-new farm tires of your choice - two rear andtwo front - valued up to $3,000.

No purchase is necessary and entrants must be 21 years old. If you can't make it to your dealer, simply write your name, address, phone number and age on a 3- x 5-in. card and mail it by May 30 to "4 for the Field" Giveaway, Attn: Rachel Dircks, Box 35670, Des Moines, IA 50315. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on or about June 3, 1999.

New Web sites

Agri-Growth Crop Talk planting tips, vote for or against terminator technology, nematodediagnostics, disease ID, farming guides at www.agrigrowth.com

National Ag Risk Education Library risk management information at www.agrisk.umn.edu

Ag tires put to test

Ranchers test performance of low-profile radials for a year .

The Broken O Ranch in Augusta, MT, recently served as a testing ground for a new Michelin agricultural tire. The company introduced the XM108 low-profile radial tire to the U.S. market more than a year ago.

Eighteen thousand acres of alfalfa and small grains are raised on the 135,000-acre ranch. It also supports a 4,500 cow-calf herd and 400 head of buffalo. The huge fleet of equipment required to keep up with this operation provided ample opportunity to test tire performance.

The test. Eleven 4-wd tractors form the backbone of the ranch's operating equipment. A set of eight XM108 radials was installed on one of the tractors - a 300-hp, 4-wd John Deere 8760 - in March 1998. The tire size was 650/65R42. The tires were replacements for the tractor's original Firestone 20.8R42 Radial All Traction 23 tires.

The ranch had been plagued by heavy spring rains, and tractors were having a difficult time plowing without getting stuck. The only operator who kept moving through the muddy conditions was Myron Huelle whose tractor was outfitted with the Michelin XM108s. In the same field where Huelle was working, an identical John Deere 8760 bogged down, and its plow sank to the frame.

Under "normal" conditions, the farmers would resort to a tracked vehicle to pull out the equipment. But to further test the XM108s, Huelle used his 8760 tractor. He pulled out the other tractor and plow and repeated this performance four times over the next four months.

The ranch has been using the Deere 8760 with Michelin XM108s in seeding applications 60 to 70% of the time. The remaining 30 to 40% of op-erating time is dedicated to plowing.

"Because the tractor doesn't get stuck in wet areas, we're working some ground that has never been broken before," says ranch manager Dan Freeman. "Plus, we're able to get into existing fields earlier to plow."

No slip. Freeman says that the Deere 8760 is routinely performing with virtually no slip in normal conditions and no more than 3% slip in the wettest working conditions.

Huelle says the tractor also has virtually no spin, which allows it to take full advantage of its horsepower. "The tires stay nice and clean even in the mud, and that really makes a big difference in the traction and pulling power," he says.

Better fuel consumption. Huelle adds that the lack of slip has provided a noticeable difference in fuel consumption. He estimates that he used to fill the tractor's fuel tank every 10 hours. With the Michelin XM108s, the tractor gets about four extra hours from every tank - a savings of approximately 40%.

Huelle also likes the comfort that the tire's radial construction provides. "You get a nice, smooth drive down the road, just like a car," he says.

Freeman projects that the XM108s will see about 1,000 hours of wear per year and is eager to compare their long-term performance with the Firestone 20.8R42 Radial All Traction 23 tires that previously outfitted the Deere 8760.

"I really like the XM108s because they give the tractor more power," Huelle says. "I'd fight if you threatened to take them away."

XM108 Michelin agricultural tire

Description: 65-series low-profile radial designed as a replacement for 80-series OEM tire. Fits on a standard rim.

Size: Full range of 19 sizes, from 16 to 42 in. in diameter.

Applications: 2-wd, mechanical front wheel assist and 4-wd tractors with 60 to 230 hp.

Also can be used as duals for 4-wd tractors with up to 425 hp.

Benefits: Offers improved performance without the added cost of new wheels. Fits on a standard wheel and operates at low air pressures for high flotation and reduced soil compaction.

Price range: $320 to $1,700

Contact: 888/552-1213 for the dealer nearest you

Tough and go

New electronic system lets you record and store field data quickly on the go.

Farm and field data collection just became easier with the new PostMark CT (CropTouch) system.

Developed by AIT, the system allows you to simply and accurately keep track of all field information - including inputs, specific equipment used, and who performed duties on a particular field - with the touch of a button.

CropTouch includes a data reader "pipe," programmable microchip buttons, downloader and software.

The 7-in. pipe "reads" the buttons, which are small, stainless steel canisters that can be programmed and reprogrammed to represent any implement, input, task or person on the farm. The pipe stores all the data electronically while keeping track of date and time. At the end of the day, the information collected on the pipe is downloaded into a computer. The data then can be viewed, managed or merged into other farm software.

Each field worker carries a wallet button to indicate that he or she is doing the work. The worker uses the pipe to touch the wallet button and all other buttons that are attached on implements and field signpost markers. There also are special boards with several buttons to indicate inputs such as field chemicals, seed bags, etc.

When a worker goes out to disk a field, for example, he first touches his wallet button with the pipe to personalize the job. When he enters the field, he stops and touches the button on the signpost to show what field is being disked. Then he touches the tractor and disk buttons to indicate which machines are being used.

When he is finished, he again touches the field signpost and heads home. That evening when the pipe is inserted into the downloader, the computer will record all the activities.

According to the manufacturer, the buttons are durable and will withstand dirt and moisture. Growers lease the system for $50/field/yr. For more information, contact AIT, Dept. FIN, 21024 421st Ave., Iroquois, SD 57353, 800/661-4117.

Partner for labor

Creating a strategic alliance is becoming a popular alternative to hiring workers to secure labor on farms. Here's what you need to know to form one.

Dale Swanstrom was having a hard time securing labor on his farm. "I tried a hired man in the past. It didn't work," says Swanstrom who farms 800 acres and runs a 170-sow operation in Beresford, SD.

So in 1995, Swanstrom, 42, tried a different approach from the conventional employer-employee relationship. He offered John Bovill, a neighbor 15 years his junior, a partnership in his hog operation.

"He swaps labor for use of my machinery, buildings and facilities," Swanstrom says. New view on labor. Swanstrom is part of a growing segment of farmers who are replacing help-wanted ads with business contracts to secure labor on their farms. These farmers usually are between the ages of 35 and 55. They want to expand their business but lack the manpower to handle the additional acres or animals.

What's more, unlike the generation before them, their sons or daughters may not be interested in joining in the business. As a result, they explore an alliance with a young person outside the immediate family.

"It is hard to find good people, especially someone who wants to become an operator," says Dr. William Edwards, extension farm management specialist with Iowa State University. "So this is a good way to attract them into it. Psychologically, it carries a higher prestige than working for a wage because they are becoming part of the management."

It takes two. Partnering with another person can do more than provide labor. These young recruits may also be more motivated than traditional wageworkers because they have a stake in the business. "When you own half a baby pig, you are going to take better care of all the litter," Swanstrom says.

The pairing also can make the entire business more efficient. For example, Swanstrom has been able to double his sow herd now that he has Bovill's help. And each sow is now producing more pigs because of the better care.

A less tangible benefit is that these arrangements give established farmers the chance to give something back to agriculture. "Farmers have the obligation to bring up another generation of farmers for the industry to survive," Swanstrom says. "Helping a young person begin farming is a reward in itself."

Is it for you? There are a variety of legal entities you can form to bring a new person into your operation. These include enterprise partnership, limited liability partnership, general partnership, S corporation, limited liability company and a limited liability corporation.

All fall under the category of a "strategic alliance," according to Mike Fassler, attorney and vice president of Salisbury Management Services in Eaton Rapids, MI. "It is a union between two people who have a common interest," Fassler says. "In this case, the producer has an interest in labor and the other person has an interest in building equity."

Whether such an alliance makes sense for you is basically a question of economics, Fassler says. If labor is limited and impeding your ability to access a market, to grow or to operate economically, then you may be better off economically to form one. Another indicator is if you are underutilizing your capital-intensive resources like equipment, buildings or land.

However, even if you fit those cases, it doesn't guarantee the alliance will be economically feasible, Fassler warns. The alliance needs to generate enough revenue to support two families. The only way you can find out if it will do that is by doing a thorough financial analysis of your business. You may find that you need to reinvest or expand your business to get the arrangement started.

There are resources that can help you make those determinations. The National Farm Transition Network, coordinated through Iowa State University's Beginning Farmer Center, consists of farm transition programs throughout the Midwest that help link beginning and established farmers.

To find the program nearest you, call Iowa State's Beginning Farmer Center at 800/447-1985. Or, if you have access to the Internet, the National Farm Transition Network's Web site (www.exnet.iastate.edu/pages/ bfc/national/homepage.htm) has a listing of programs in each state.

Size up your prospects. The next step is to find the right person. Most farm transition programs keep a database of candidates that you can review.

Once you find several that interest you, the program can help arrange an interview. The interview should cover all of the questions you normally would ask when considering someone for a job, says John Baker, an attorney and administrator of Iowa's Beginning Farmer Center. These include:

Experience/education: What knowledge and skills can the candidate bring to the business? How much training has he or she had?

Long-term goals: Where does the person see himself or herself in 10 years? 20 years? Are those goals in line with yours?

Level of commitment: How long has the candidate stayed in previous jobs? How many times has he or she changed jobs?

Communication skills: Does the person communicate well? Is he or she willing to communicate?

Character: Is the candidate's personality compatible with yours? How does he or she treat others? Do you feel comfortable? What does your gut instinct tell you about this person? If your instinct says it isn't right, it probably isn't, Fassler says.

Core values: Does this person have a business philosophy and behavior that are similar to yours? Do you think alike?

Financial stability: Does the candidate have a good credit history?

Be prepared to answer the same tough questions posed by the person you are interviewing. Baker says, "If there are nonfarming heirs, the candidate also needs to know if there's opportunity to buy the business or if all the assets will go to the children and the partner gets nothing."

If either of the parties is unwilling to answer these questions, experts agree it could be a red flag that the relationship may not work.

Take a test drive. Baker recommends you hire the prospect as an employee for the first six months to get a sense of how the arrangement will work. That's what Steve Fisher of Grand Junction, IA, did with his partner-to-be, Brian Sandage. Sandage started out hourly, then was offered a salary and benefits, then eventually a partnership in a limited liability company formed around a new hog-finishing site.

"I was going to have to build an additional finishing site anyway for expansion," Fisher says. "So I offered him this opportunity to get into the business, also."

The limited liability company finishes pigs for Fisher's 550 sow farrow-to-finish operation, which is set up as a corporation. The arrangement works like any other custom-finishing contract, Fisher says. The corporation retains ownership of the hogs and pays for feed and vet services. In turn, the limited liability company provides buildings, management, utilities and labor.

"For now, I am providing the collateral to secure the loan for the buildings, and he is providing sweat equity to run the operation," Fisher says. Once the buildings are paid off, Sandage will get half the profits in addition to the regular salary and benefits he gets from Fisher's corporation. "Someday, I may sell the whole thing to him," Fisher says.

Put it in writing. Both parties in the alliance need to draft a written agreement that outlines what each is agreeing to do. It should cover who does what, who pays for what, and how profits and losses are divided. Such provisions will reduce conflict later on.

Joy Johnson, administrator of Nebraska's Land Link program, says the hardest part is figuring how income is divided and how risk is shared. "What I advise farmers is to make themselves a list," Johnson says. "Write down all of the expenses that go into running the operation and place three columns over the top: one column for the total operation, one for the older person and a third for the younger person. Decide who will pay what expense."

This will require that you assign values to land and equipment. "Generally, those are the two things the older person is putting in," Johnson says. "If the younger person had those, he wouldn't need you." You can get those values by looking at current rental rates or cash rents in your area.

Next, list input expenses like feed, seed and fertilizer and decide who pays what. The younger farmer may need to take out an operating loan to pay, but that is usually part of his or her contribution.

Next, estimate labor hours. Include labor rates and who will supply what labor. Rates should be adjusted to the task. "For example, if [the task] is on the management or marketing end, it makes sense to give it a higher rate," Johnson says.

University extension agents trained in farm management are a good source for establishing labor rates and determining how many hours go into a certain type of operation.

Get a lawyer. All the experts agree that, once both parties have agreed to a written plan, you should take it to an attorney and have a legal document drawn up.

The attorney can put a legal name on the alliance. This is important because you will be held to the rules and tax laws of the legal entity you form.

Going to an attorney will also help you know your rights under Amendment E, recently passed in some states like South Dakota and Nebraska. "It basically prohibits the use of business structures like limited liability partnerships or limited liability corporations unless it is a family farm," says Thad Olsen, agricultural finance and loan program specialist at the South Dakota Department of Agriculture.

For the operation to be considered a family farm, the parties have to be actively participating in farming on it, Olsen says. "The intent is to keep the large corporations from coming in and owning livestock."

Johnson says such laws should not be inhibitors to working with a beginning farmer. "In Nebraska, the 51% shareholder needs to participate in the day-to-day operations of the farm," she says. "And these gentlemen are planning to do that anyway."

Finally, the attorney also can draw up a plan for leaving the operation. Fisher had such a plan built into his contract that protects both parties. "The limited liability company is set up so I have ultimate control," Fisher says. "I can buy him out at an agreed value. He is also protected."

Fisher says developing a long-term working relationship is not an option for everyone because of different management styles and working philosophies.

"Some producers think they have to have it all for themselves," he says. "But in the right situation, it can help get quality labor long term."

For the farm

Spraying nooks and crannies

Get close to the fence line and in hard-to-reach areas with the new Tiger lawn and garden sprayer for ATVs from Lovcik Manufacturing.

The sprayer features a 20-gal. tank and an 8-ft. 3-in. boom (or trigger wand with an 18-in. extension, adjustable nozzle and 25-ft. retractable hose) and uses a relief system with a 12v pump.

You can calibrate the sprayer to the amount of gallons per acre you need; and for a good tank mix, it features a constant bypass agitation system. Price: $495. Contact Lovcik Mfg., Dept. FIN, 7908 Hwy. 20,St. Michael, ND 58370, 701/766-4800.

Super clean

Just like the name says, Castrol's Super Clean All Wheel Cleaner will remove grease, oil, dirt, tar, wax and other buildup from any wheel surface, according to the company.

It's safe to use on all wheel finishes, including clear lacquered, painted, anodized, or polished aluminum as well as chrome plated and gold toned. You simply spray it on the surface and rinse it off for an original "factory shine." It's available in 4- and 24-oz. trigger spray bottles or 30- and 55-gal. drums. Price: $3.49 for 24-oz. spray bottle. Contact Castrol North America, Automotive Div., Dept. FIN, 1500 Valley Rd., Wayne, NJ 07470, 888/227-8765.

Small-tractor canopy

Stay protected from the elements when you attach the Perry EZ soft canopy cover to the cab of your utility tractor.

First attach the company's aluminum canopy frame to your compact tractor and fit the canvas snugly over the frame. Both clear and screened windows are provided and are attached or removed easily with Velcro strips. Bungee cords act as tie-downs to the tractor body. The cab fits most tractors with a 44- x 60-in., or smaller, canopy. Price: $599 (includes shipping). Contact The Perry Co., Dept. FIN, Box 7187, Waco, TX 75714, 800/792-3246.

Extremely clean Blast your equipment clean with Alkota's X-Treme Performance pressure washers, available in seven sizes with capacities of 2.1 to 4.8 gpm and pressures from 1,600 to 3,000 psi. Motors vary from a 2.3-hp, 115v to an 8-hp, 230v. The largest of the line is the 4302X. All washers feature 50 ft. of hose and a stainless steel float tank. They weigh from 340 to 590 lbs. Price range: $2,949 to $5,129. Contact Alkota Cleaning Systems, Dept. FIN, Box 288, Alcester, SD 57001, 800/255-6823.

Machinery

The better to see you

New warning strobes from Compliance Safety provide a highly visible flash to warn other highway drivers or other workers on the farm of your location. The strobes secure to any machine with three high-powered magnets that are strong enough to withstand speeds or wind of more than 90 mph. The tough poly strobes are fully gasketed to keep moisture out of the housing and away from the bulb. The bulb sits on an internal shock absorber to handle machine vibration or bounce. Two D-cell batteries power the lights, which come in amber, blue, red or white. Suggested price: $34.95. Contact Compliance Safety Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 676, Northbrook, IL 60065, 800/340-3413.

Fill and drill

Three new single-auger models have been added to Unverferth's line of Drill Fills. They are now available for 15-ft. Tye series V drills, Great Plains 1500 series drills and Case 5400 drills. Dual hydraulic controls let you operate from ground level or from the unit's platform. The Drill Fill stores across the rear of the drill with the help of a spring-assisted vertical lift auger, and it can be mounted for left- or right-hand loading. Contact Unverferth Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, Box 357, Kalida, OH 45853, 800/322-6301.

Business of buying

Leaving Canada

Case Corporation is closing a Canadian manufacturing plant and moving the product lines across the border to plants in Illinois and North Dakota. The tillage and soil preparation equipment produced in the Hamilton, Ontario, Case plant will be manufactured in a Goodfield, IL, plant. Case acquired the Illinois plant last year when it purchased DMI. The other products from the Canadian plant will be manufactured in a Fargo, ND, plant that Case acquired in 1996 from Concord. Case reports that closing the Canadian plant and consolidating manufacturing should save the company $95 to $100 million a year.

Background checks

If you want to check the background of an investment firm or commodity broker dealing in futures, a new Web site will help answer your questions. The National Futures Association (NFA) is offering a new service online called BASIC. Available on BASIC are all disciplinary actions taken by NFA and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. The information provided at www.nfa.futures.org is free to the public. You may also call NFA at 800/ 621-3570 for additional help.

Troubled waters

Farmers can spot water quality and habitat problems by using an online assessment program offered on the Natural Resources Conservation Service's National Water and Climate Center (NWCC) Web site. The assessment program is located at www.wcc. nrcs.usda.gov and is found under the Water Quality and Quantity Sciences section. For more information, contact the NWCC at 503/414-3055.

U.S. corn banned in Europe

As farmers head to the fields this spring, they will care for fields of corn and soybeans that are banned in the European Union (EU). For the third year in a row, the EU is banning all corn exports from the United States based on the use of genetically modified (GM) corn varieties planted by our farmers. This ban is costing U.S. farmers an estimated $200 million in lost corn exports.

The U.S. Grains Council estimates that 311/2 million acres of corn, or 40% of U.S. corn acres, are GM varieties.

U.S. companies selling the GM corn varieties have applied for EU approval of their seeds. But only four varieties have been approved, and seven varieties are still in the approval process, which is taking two to three years. The EU bans all U.S. corn, fearing our inability to segregate the different varieties in the export process, according to Alex Jackson, director of trade relations for the U.S. Grains Council.

On the other hand, U.S. soybeans are still allowed for export into the EU. Two GM soybean varieties are approved for EU export, while 20 more varieties wait in the approval queue.

Last year, 30% of our soybean exports headed to the EU. Unfortunately, the amount of soybeans being exported this year is running 15 to 25% below the export number of a year ago, reports Jim Hershey with the American Soybean Association. Hershey attributes this drop to the large Brazilian crop, not to concerns about GM crops. But the concern with GM soybeans is growing and could impact exports in the future. For example, Great Britain seeks soybeans that are free of genetic modifications. About half of the U.S. soybean crop this summer is planted with GM varieties, Hershey estimates.

Zeneca, Monsanto agree on herbicide use

Growers should be able to use another herbicide on their Roundup Ready soybeans this summer. Zeneca and Monsanto reached an agreement to allow growers to apply Zeneca's Touchdown herbicide on Roundup Ready soybeans. Before this occurs, however, EPA must register the product for this use. EPA's registration is expected in time for this summer's growing season.

Once the registration is received, the special agreement between Zeneca and Monsanto will let growers use the herbicide on the soybeans without becoming involved in legal issues over patent rights for this application, provided they comply with any license or agreement they have with Monsanto or its seed licensees. The agreement also gives Zeneca the rights to test, register and sell Touchdown on Roundup Ready corn in the United States.

As part of the agreement, Zeneca, Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred International agreed to dismiss the lawsuits they have pending against each other in Delaware and Missouri. These relate to the use of Touchdown over Roundup Ready crops and related Monsanto patents and to Monsanto's marketing practices.