Checkoffs in jeopardy

The beef checkoff's future is uncertain after a federal judge in South Dakota ruled it unconstitutional. The judge based his ruling on a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that ruled a mushroom checkoff unconstitutional. The beef checkoff is $1/head of cattle sold. Checkoff supporters received a court order to continue collecting the checkoff until the ruling is appealed. Similar challenges face the pork and dairy programs.

Normal crop

Elwynn Taylor predicts that this year's average Corn Belt yields will be about 140 to 142 bu./acre for corn and 41 bu./acre for soybeans. The well-known extension climatologist from Iowa State University bases his predictions on a 19-year weather cycle that produces six years of risky weather and then 13 years of low-risk weather. We're currently in the low-risk years with risky weather starting in 2005, Taylor says.

Challenger brand expands

When AGCO Corporation purchased Caterpillar's farm equipment business in March, the company took a major stake in the future of rubber-belted “tracked” farm tractors. But that's not all — AGCO also bought the Challenger brand name. With it, AGCO acquired access to Caterpillar's dealer network.

The high-powered MT series tracked tractors are still the flagship Challenger products. But now AGCO has painted the Challenger brand onto some of its existing wheeled tractors, hay balers and other farm equipment. AGCO says the specially branded Challenger products will include additional deluxe features and be sold and serviced exclusively by Cat dealers.

Check out the Challenger-yellow machines at www.challenger.agcocorp.com.