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Articles from 2009 In August

AGCO site consolidates application equipment information

AGCO Application Equipment is bringing its dealers and customers a new user-friendly source for all things related to application equipment.

New is a single and convenient resource for application professionals and professional growers reflecting more than 40 plus years of innovation and application industry experience.

"On the heels of our 2010 model RoGator introduction, we're also introducing which consolidates information on all brands from AGCO Application Equipment," says Mark Sharitz, director of marketing. "The site is designed to help retailers and growers shop for the application machine that best meets their needs vs. shopping by brand. It also makes it easier for dealers to find the tools and information they need because dealer-directed information clearly is segmented."

As a source for all things related to application equipment, the site replaces the individual brand sites for TerraGator, Willmar, NMS, SpraCoupe, and RoGator, yet provides full product information and specifications for each product offering. This full-service buyers' guide for application equipment features a 360-degree virtual tour of each machine complete with detailed descriptions as you mouse over machine features. A product comparison feature will also be included. Full details about financing options available from AGCO as well as links to, AGCOAnswers and a dealer locator make a true resource for application professionals. The site's all-new on-line store offers a wide selection of headgear, apparel and specialty items, while the Fun Zone includes wallpapers and screensavers for the die-hard equipment buff.

For more information about AGCO Application Equipment, visit or your local AGCO Application Equipment dealer.

Ag Leader Enhances SMS™ Desktop Software Compatibility

August 31, 2009, AMES, Iowa – Today, Ag Leader Technology, Inc., a leader in the development of precision farming solutions, announced new and enhanced industry file format support from the market-leading SMS Basic and SMS Advanced precision farming desktop software.

With the release of Version 9.5, SMS Basic and SMS Advanced now support files from the AutoFarm A5 display, Hempishere GPS Outback and Air systems and ISO11783 XML log files. Additionally, the software has enhanced compatibility with the John Deere GreenStar™ 2, Case IH AFS® Pro600, New Holland IntelliView™ as well as Trimble’s AgGPS® FMD™ and AgGPS® FmX™ monitors.

“We feel it is critical to provide our customers and dealers with software that is open and compatible with data from different manufacturers,” says Ag Leader President, Al Myers. “SMS desktop software provides unmatched support for key industry file formats, for both the reading and exporting of files. These additions further strengthen our commitment to supporting all precision farming data.”

“We put a lot of effort into data integration, especially managing and moving guidance lines from different manufacturers’ precision farming systems,” adds Corey Weddle, Director of Software Solutions. “We are working very closely with other manufacturers to ensure SMS is compatible with as many systems as possible.”

SMS software manages, organizes and provides analysis of precision agriculture data allowing users to make informed decisions. The software supports reading and exporting data from Ag Leader displays and most precision farming systems including: AGCO, AutoFarm, Case IH, CLAAS, DICKEY-john, Flexi-coil, Hemisphere GPS, John Deere, KINZE, Kverneland, Mid-Tech, New Holland, Precision Planting, Raven, RDS and Trimble. A complete list of file formats and extensions can be found at:

About Ag Leader

Ag Leader Technology, Inc. is a pioneer and recognized technology innovator of precision agriculture hardware and software. Located in Ames, Iowa the company manufactures and markets industry leading precision farming technology designed to help growers make smart, profitable business decisions. Founded in 1992 the company has achieved consistent growth and expansion by providing value-based products that help growers and ag professionals achieve and maintain a successful operation. For more information visit:

Sanctions Approved in Brazil Cotton Case

Another strike against U.S. cotton programs came down today when the World Trade Organization announced a formal decision in the Brazil, United States cotton case. The arbitration follows a 2008 WTO ruling that the United States had not compiled with the original findings in the cotton dispute which found U.S. cotton programs distorted world cotton markets.

Brazil is authorized to suspend concessions (“impose countermeasures”) against U.S. trade. The total amount may vary from year to year because part of the award is based a detailed formula set out by the Arbitrators. For the time periods analyzed by the Arbitrators, including fiscal year 2006 for the part based on the formula, the amount would be $294.7 million.

In response to Brazil’s claim that it had an unconditional ability to suspend concessions against U.S. intellectual property and services, so-called “cross-sectoral” countermeasures, the Arbitrators denied Brazil’s claim. Furthermore, the Arbitrators found that Brazil may not impose cross-sectoral countermeasures unless the total amount of countermeasures for a particular year exceeds a threshold calculated for that year based on a subset of Brazil’s imports from the United States. For 2007, that threshold was $409.7 million.

Office of the United States Trade Representative spokeswoman Carol Guthrie said, “While we remain disappointed with the outcome of this dispute, we are pleased that the Arbitrators awarded Brazil far below the amount of countermeasures it asked for. In its first requests for countermeasures in the Cotton dispute, Brazil asked for more than $4 billion in annual countermeasures. During the arbitration proceedings, Brazil argued for more than $2 billion annually. Further, we are grateful that the Arbitrators denied Brazil’s request for unlimited ability to suspend concessions on intellectual property or services. And we are pleased that the Arbitrators denied Brazil’s request for an additional one-time $350 million in countermeasures in connection with the repealed Step 2 payment program for cotton.

Guthrie added, “At this time, we do not know when or if Brazil will move to obtain final authorization to suspend concessions or when or if Brazil would act on any such authorization."

Saxby Chambliss, R - Ga., said he is pleased the size of the award is less than requested by Brazil, "the complexity of the decision with regard to the export credit and cotton programs does not seem to be rooted in the Uruguay Round Agriculture Agreement. The panel report may make it harder to reach an amicable resolution with Brazil in this case and because of the complexity of the Arbitration panel's decision will certainly complicate negotiations in the Doha Round.”

Chambliss said the WTO panel ignored changes Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) previously made to the export credit and cotton programs administratively and in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and the 2008 farm bill to specifically address earlier concerns of the dispute settlement body. In 2005, USDA implemented a risk-based fee structure to GSM-102 and in the farm bill, Congress repealed authority for the Supplier Credit Guarantee Program (SCGP), the GSM-103 intermediate credit guarantee, and the 1% cap on loan origination fees for the GSM-102 program. In addition, Congress repealed the Step 2 program four years ago while making significant reforms to the cotton program in the 2008 farm bill.

“Since 2005, U.S. production of upland cotton has decreased by 45% and U.S. share of the export market has dropped by almost 20%. " To assume that the U.S. cotton program is causing serious prejudice to Brazilian farmers is not only factually incorrect but defies common sense. In addition, U.S. government data on our export credit programs clearly illustrates that GSM-102 is not an export subsidy, but is in fact providing a net return to the federal government," Chambliss said.

Guthrie said the Administration will be actively consulting within the U.S. Government and with stakeholders on how to move forward. Chambliss added in the coming weeks and months, there will be renewed calls by Brazil, trading partners and critics at home to make additional changes to the export credit and commodity programs. "Calls to do so are premature and would signal the wrong course of action. The U.S. Trade Representative should carefully examine what options are available within the WTO in light of the report."

Chambliss said he will be meeting with Ambassador Kirk in the coming days to discuss options including requesting a compliance panel or an entirely new panel to demonstrate the U.S. has complied with the original decision. "I look forward to the conversation and working with my colleagues in the Senate and Congress on the appropriate response to this decision," he added.

Corn+Soybean Digest

Farm DSL Internet Access Up 9%

USDA says DSL is the most common method of accessing the Internet on the farm in 2009, with 36% of U.S. farms using it, up from 27% in 2007. In 2007, dialup was the most common method of accessing the Internet. But dialup access dropped from 47% in 2007 to 23% in 2009. Satellite and wireless were each reported as the primary Internet access methods on 13% of those U.S. farms with Internet access. Cable was reported as the primary access method on 11% of the farms.

Internet access was used in 59% of U.S. farms, compared with 57% in 2007. Some 64% of farms have access to a computer in 2009, the same level as 2007. The proportion of U.S. farms owning or leasing a computer in 2009 is at 61%, up 1% from 2007. Farms using computers for their farm business increased 1% from 2007 to 36% in 2009.

In 2009, 81% of U.S. farms with sales and government payments of $250,000 or more have access to a computer, 79% own or lease a computer, 69% are using a computer for their farm business and 76% have Internet access. For farms with sales and government
payments between $100,000 and $249,999, the figures are: 70% have access to a computer, 67% own or lease a computer, 52% are using a computer for their farm business and 63% have Internet access.

Of the farms with sales and government payments between $10,000 and $99,999, 62% reported having computer access, 59% own or lease a computer, 38% use a computer for their farm business and 57% have Internet access.

For crop farms, 65% have computer access and 40% use a computer for their farm business in 2009, up 1-3% from 2007. Internet access for crop farms has increased to 60% in 2009, compared with 56% in 2007. In 2009, a total of 63% livestock farms have computer access and 58% have Internet access.

Corn+Soybean Digest

USDA Projects Net Farm Income Down 38%

USDA says dramatically lower commodity prices and plunging exports mean that 2009 net farm income is expected to be down 38% from 2008 estimates and 15% from the 10-year average.

Net farm income is forecast to be $54 billion in 2009, down $33.2 billion from the preliminary estimate of $87.2 billion for 2008. The 2009 forecast is $9 billion below the average of $63.2 billion over the past 10 years.

Net cash income, which takes into account the sale of carryover stocks from 2008, is expected to be down as well, but only by 30% from 2008 to $68.2 billion. Annual receipts from food grains are expected to decline by almost 29% in 2009, mostly reflecting an anticipated 35% drop in wheat receipts, which should account for almost 77% of food grain receipts in 2009.

Much of the expected decline in wheat receipts from 2008 to 2009 results from a dramatic drop in price and reduced exports in the face of large world supplies. The average calendar price for wheat in 2007 was $5.74/bu., rising to $7.73 in 2008 before falling to a 2009 estimated range of $4.70-5.70, according to the last USDA world supply and demand report.

In the income report, USDA also projected total expenses to go down for the first time since 2002, though the $9.2 billion decline projected would still leave farm expenses 5% higher than in 2007, and the reduction in gross income will far exceed the reduction in production costs.

Despite these numbers, USDA says government payments are “forecast to be essentially unchanged” in 2009, with a projected decline from 2008 in ad hoc and emergency assistance payments being offset by increases in dairy and countercyclical payments.

The report says 2009 average family farm household income is forecast to be $75,895, down 5.2% from 2008 and 8% below the five-year average for 2004-2008. In 2009, the average family farm is forecast to receive 7.6% of its household income from farm sources.

For more from the income report, please visit

DNA discoveries can help solve food crisis

Max Rothschild has spent much of his career looking at the DNA of pigs.

His work at Iowa State University has won numerous awards, including the American Ag Editors Association’s Distinguished Service Award, which was presented to him at the Ag Media Summit in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Rothschild, responsible for numerous inventions such as three gene tests that are leading to significant increases in pig litter size, says changes in technology have made it possible for scientists to determine the DNA sequence of all major livestock species.

“The ultimate outcome — and this may take many years — will be to produce animals that are healthier and grow better and faster,” he said. “We will be able to make specialized products for the consumer, which will provide more income for the farmer. All of these genetic developments will continue to make the farmer more productive and to help feed the world.”

The latter is a familiar subject to Rothschild, who has made several trips to work with swine herders in Uganda over the last four years. His is one of several projects being conducted by ISU scientists in that country. For more information go to

“Over 1 billion people in this world make less than a dollar a day, and their food security is non-existent,” said Rothschild, who holds an endowed chair at Iowa State and is also coordinator of USDA’s National Pig Genome Project. “We in the developed world need to do more to help these people emerge out of poverty and have a secure source of food.”

He harbors no illusions about the challenges agriculturalists face in making those changes, particularly when it comes to winning acceptance for the biotechnological innovations that have occurred so rapidly in the U.S.

“There is a crisis in our country relative to science, and there is plenty of blame to go around,” he told attendees at the Ag Media Summit, which was billed as the largest gathering ever of agricultural journalists under one roof. “As much as our discoveries will change the face of animal agriculture, they will require the efforts of all of you.

“We, the academics, need to do a better job of explaining science and its applications to the public and people like you. We need those in your profession to actively try to translate science and its implications to readers, and we need the public’s help in seeing that their children are trained in science. This will allow us to continue to be a strong and vibrant society, allowing us to make discoveries that help feed ourselves and the world around us.”

(More than 700 ag editors and industry communications professionals attended the Ag Media Summit, including about 150 journalists from 30 countries who participated in the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Congress held prior to the Summit).


This farmer has gone green at the grassroots level

The biggest threat from climate change has less to do with rising sea levels, shifting of agricultural regions, more hurricanes in the Gulf, or why the heck it rained so much during the dog days of summer.

It has more to do with the idea that a green revolution could very well beget another oppressive bureaucracy sticking its nose into the private lives of its citizens. To me, the most important issue our nation and the world faces today is not global warming. It’s how successful we are keeping the government out of the process of dealing with it.

Recently, I wrote a light-hearted column (Gassy cows and greenhouse government) about rules the government might have implemented to mitigate cow burps, a primary source of methane, a greenhouse gas. Thankfully, the issue died right around the time I was writing it.

However, a Texas farmer who read the column on our Web site filed an objection to it. While he did not specifically address the main point of my column — that a benevolent cause does not necessarily require a government program — he did impart a solution that I did not discuss, that conservation and environmentalism in a free society can start from the ground up.

“I own a ranch of several thousand acres in the center of Texas,” he wrote. “I have implemented solar, geo-thermal, natural gas, crop management, biochar (a charcoal-like material that can sequester carbon), biodiesel, crop and grazing rotation practices and other so-called ‘green’ approaches to my operations. My so-called carbon dioxide footprint is dwindling. My costs of operation are dwindling even faster.”

The writer says the upfront implementation of his green practices was manageable “and I have already, in less than three years, made my investment back. I expect that when T. Boone (Pickens) gets my wind turbines up and running, I will have no cost of operation other than maintenance, implements, salaries and feed supplement.

“My pasture and field development, using natural organic compost and biochar has wrought virtual miracles in the amount of feed grasses and grains we produce. I do still plow and disk in some fields, but what I put back in the soil allows it to hold more moisture and resist wind and rain erosion.

“Make light of ‘green’ thinking,” he wrote of my column, “but it will, sooner than later, make us more competitive in world markets with our competition which survives off the subsidies of their governments, pays hands next to zero and who have crappy standards of living for their people.”

While world leaders continue to argue over who should sign on to cap and trade, which is essentially world governments’ solution to global warming, a Texas farmer has figured out — on his own — how to reduce his carbon footprint dramatically and economically. These are solutions we should look at more seriously.


Corn+Soybean Digest

Better South American Export Opportunities?

South America’s wheat import demand has been relatively flat over the last five years, likely because of crop shortfalls in Argentina. That should help U.S. efforts to export wheat to the region.

USDA says Argentina has traditionally covered much of the region’s import needs because of its logistical and freight advantages, along with preferential market access. It typically supplies 50% of the region’s imports and between 75% and 95% of Brazil’s import needs, the largest South American importer. However, Argentina is not expected to be a reliable supplier this year because of its smaller crop and drastically lower exportable supplies.

That shortage is creating opportunities for both the U.S. and Canada. However, with a smaller crop and reduced supplies, Canada will not be in a position to take full advantage of this market opportunity. That leaves the U.S. in the best position to fill South America’s import needs vacated by Argentina.

It should also be noted that Argentina’s tight exportable supplies will leave other markets short, particularly in Africa, providing opportunities for other exporters, as well.

Corn+Soybean Digest

CRP Meetings Set

USDA has announced that nine public meetings about the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will be conducted beginning Sept. 15 at locations across the nation. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) says topics for the nine workshops will include provisions for dealing with cropping history requirements, crop rotation practices, contract incentives, program enrollment terms and the CRP enrollment authority of 32 million acres established for the remainder of the 2008 Farm Bill.

"These workshops will be important to receive feedback about how we can make the Conservation Reserve Program more effective for producers as well as increase the environmental benefits of the program," says Jonathan Coppess, FSA administrator.
In addition to the workshops, public comments on the CRP may be submitted to the FSA. USDA will consider the comments while preparing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

The baking industry has been pursuing such a statement as a prerequisite for implementing changes to the CRP. Cory Martin, senior federal government relations manager for the American Bakers Association (ABA), says the workshops and invitations for comments could offer an opportunity for a closer look at the CRP with possible program revisions.

"I think there is an opportunity for change here," says Martin. "This administration is pro-conservation, but it appears there will be a chance through this process to air issues of concern to bakers. ABA will be submitting comments."