Dow grows bigger

Dow AgroSciences has announced its intent to purchase Rohm and Haas's agricultural chemicals business, including working capital, trademark and patent rights, and several manufacturing sites, for approximately $1 billion. If completed in the second quarter as scheduled, the acquisition would give Dow additional fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and other product lines. In 2000, Rohm and Haas ag product sales were $531 million. The acquisition is expected to boost Dow AgroSciences' annual sales to approximately $3 billion.

Same old snake oil

“This is the season for shady pesticide sales practices,” warns Fred Fishel, University of Missouri extension specialist. “High-pressure salespersons are already calling farmers. It's an annual experience.”

Fishel says that, in recent phone sales scams, the materials sold are diluted versions of old formulations. “That makes the price of active ingredient very expensive,” he says. “You could end up paying more for less weed control. It's better to check out the products at local farm centers and exchanges operated by people you know.”

Farm numbers drop

The number of U.S. farms showed its largest drop from 1999 to 2000 since 1991, according to USDA figures. Officially, USDA reports 20,000 farms quit the business in 1999, leaving 2.17 million farms still operating. The decline came from the smallest farms with annual sales between $1,000 and $10,000. The number of farms in larger sales categories remained stable. The government reports 350,000 farms sell $100,000 and more annually. Another 1 million farms sell between $10,000 and $100,000 a year. — Doane's Agricultural Report

Good year for bankers

Financial institutions continue to report that the year 2000 was very profitable. Farm Credit Services of America ended the year with a 10.7% increase in loan volume compared to 1999 and total assets of $5.9 billion. Consolidated net income in 2000 was $86.8 million compared to $90.5 million in 1999. The company says the decline was due to a tax settlement recorded in 1999. Excluding the impact of the 1999 tax settlement, net income in 2000 was actually $7.1 million more than that of the previous year, the company says.

Futures contracts to use DTN data

The Minneapolis Grain Exchange (MGEX) announced that it now has a licensing agreement with Data Transmission Network (DTN) to develop cash-settled futures contracts using DTN data. MGEX President Kent Horsager says corn and soybean futures and options will be the first focus of the electronic trading platform sometime in the third quarter of this year. “We also believe possibilities exist for creative, new cash-settled risk management tools in many agriculture and non-agriculture product areas,” Horsager says.

Online credit

Now growers can finance online ag chemical purchases with online financing. XSAg.com is offering financing through Farm Credit right from the XSAg Web site. Producers may obtain a line of credit online to purchase chemicals, seed, equipment, parts and animal health products offered on the site.

A buyer applies for the Farm Credit loan online. Within one hour, he should receive a notice by e-mail of the loan approval and may immediately begin using the line for purchases. Currently, buyers use credit cards, electronic checking and wire transfer to make purchases online.

Major portions of the Midwest are part of the online financing service. For more information, contact Farm Credit at 800/521-9952 or visit XSAg.com.

Hybrid soybeans

The Chinese have discovered a new technology called cytoplasmic male sterility that could make soybean hybridization more feasible. Bob Byrnes of the University of Minnesota extension service says that although the benefits of hybridization are not likely to be as great for soybeans are they are for corn, the process could achieve higher yields, disease resistance and other desirable traits in soybeans faster than traditional breeding practices have done in the past.

“Cytoplasmic male sterility provides a better way to get a male sterile flower,” Byrnes says. “Bees can be used to move the pollen from the pollen-producing male parent to the male-sterile female parent.”