Test drivers needed

If you've always wanted to test drive a new ATV, utility vehicle or pickup truck, here's your chance. Farm Industry News is planning to run its popular ATV/UV and pickup truck rodeo this summer. Farmers will test drive and evaluate the vehicles, and we will report the results in the magazine.

We're looking for additional drivers from our farm readership to help test drive the new machines. If you are a full-time farm operator, you're eligible to enter the random drawing for drivers. We'll pay the expenses for the four to five days you spend in Minneapolis, MN, while testing the vehicles.

Let us know if you're interested. Write to us with your name, phone number and e-mail address at Farm Industry News, 7900 International Dr., Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55425, call 800/722-5334, or send an e-mail to fin@primediabusiness.com.

New EPA manure rules

EPA just announced new standards regulating manure handling at the nation's approximately 40,000 concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO). Previously regulated mainly by state rules, the CAFOs will now come under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, which will require discharge permits. The animal feeding industries estimate it will cost between $850 and $950 million for the livestock operations to comply with the new regulations. EPA also ruled that farmers don't need permits under the Clean Water Act to use herbicides in irrigation canals to maintain their irrigation systems.

GM offers rebate

If you're in the market for a new pickup truck, check out the models with the new flexible-fuel option. These models also come with a rebate. General Motors is offering a $500 rebate to farmers who buy either a Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra 1500-series pickup truck that is E85-capable. The trucks will operate on either regular gasoline or E85, an alternative fuel made from 85% ethanol. Be sure you have updated your National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) membership, though, because only NCGA members will receive the rebate.

Monsanto, Pioneer call a truce

Two of the world's largest seed companies have called a truce over their 11 pending lawsuits against each other. DuPont and its subsidiary, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, and Monsanto Company have dismissed all the lawsuits, some of which dated as far back as 1996, and have agreed to several major patent and royalty issues. As a result, Pioneer can now use Monsanto's Roundup Ready and other biotechnology traits in its seed for a royalty fee. The companies did not disclose financial terms of the agreement.

Pioneer claims to be the world's largest seed company, selling seed for 40% of the domestic corn crop and 20% of the domestic soybean crop. Monsanto reports that 45% of North American corn seed and 35% of soybean seed planted last year was either a Monsanto brand or a Monsanto-licensed genetic trait or germ plasm.

Claas buys Lexion factory

Claas KgaA of Harsewinkel, Germany, now is the sole owner of the new Lexion combine factory in Omaha, NE. The company announced it has completed the purchase of Caterpillar's one-half ownership in the plant, which it will rename Claas Omaha LLC. Day-to-day operations will remain largely unchanged. The eight models of the Lexion combines will continue to carry the Cat brand name and Caterpillar components, including engines. Caterpillar dealers will continue to distribute the combines.

Number of biotech seed acres grows

Soybean seed varieties with genetically modified traits were the hot sellers in the seed market this year. A USDA report estimates that 74% of all the soybean seed sold for the 2002 crop was biotech seed. This is an increase from last year when growers planted 68% of the soybean crop with biotech seed. Based on the seed sales, biotech soybeans should cover 54 million acres. Genetically modified corn hybrids were not as popular, but still increased in amount sold. About 32% of the corn crop covering 25.3 million acres will be biotech, up from 26% in 2001.