Tour the Paris farm show

Travel to Europe this winter with Farm Industry News to visit SIMA, one of the world's largest farm equipment shows, held in Paris. SIMA, also called the Paris International Agri-Business Show, is held every other year and includes 1,330 exhibitors in its many indoor exhibit halls.

The trip is scheduled February 22 to March 2, 2003, with two days spent at SIMA. Then the tour heads to Germany to visit some of the most highly mechanized farms and farm equipment manufacturing plants in the world. This will be a great opportunity to view European farm technology and how it is produced.

Cost for the tour package is $1,971, which includes the full program of agri-visits, airfare, accommodations, ground transportation, guides and more. For more information, contact Farm Industry News, 7900 International Dr., Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55425, 800/722-5334 or visit http://www.kitt-travel.com/AgriTour.htm.

Who owns Bt corn, RR cotton?

Syngenta has filed two separate lawsuits against some of its largest competitors in the seed industry. The company's legal action asserts that YieldGard and Herculex insect-resistant corn and Bollgard and Roundup Ready cotton fall within the scope of its patent rights. The first suit covers Syngenta's claim to rights over synthetic Bt genes that make corn plants resistant to insects such as European corn borer. The second suit is broader, claiming that Syngenta has rights to commonly used methods of transferring genes into plants using Agrobacterium.

The lawsuits seek to stop Monsanto, DeKalb Genetics, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Delta and Pine Land, Dow AgroSciences, and Mycogen Seeds from selling products containing or resulting from the disputed technologies. That could give Syngenta's NK seed a near monopoly of seed technology that has gained wide popularity.

Should farmers worry? Probably not. Insiders predict that, if Syngenta wins these patent disputes, it will seek patent royalties from its competitors, ultimately allowing continued access to the technologies through various companies. There will be plenty of time to speculate on the outcome. Syngenta has to win a difficult battle against some determined competitors.
— Wayne Wenzel

Expect higher land rents

A group of farm managers and rural appraisers anticipates a rise in land rents once the 2002 Farm Bill takes full effect. Driving this rental increase are the higher farm incomes expected from larger farm program payments, according to the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers Inc.

“Rent could jump $5 to $6/acre as landowners build the support payment potential for operators of their property into future rental prices,” reports Bill Phelps, farm manager, Arch Reclamation Service, St. Louis, MO. “Rental prices aren't going to rise overnight, but operators should expect some kind of upward trend since direct and countercyclical payments are coming directly to them.”

Landowners who cash rent are not eligible for direct and countercyclical payments. Phelps speculates that the farm program changes will cause some landowners to reconsider cash rent. The farm payments, along with better crop insurance and improved technologies, have reduced farming risks, making alternative lease options less risky.

“Landlords will begin to access their current agreements more closely to make sure that their profits stay consistent if not increase as a result of farm program changes,” Phelps says.

The society reports that absentee landowners control about 45% of the farm and ranch land in the U.S.

Costly health care

Farm families pay a big chunk of their income for health care. According to a survey of farm families in northwest Iowa, the average cost of insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for family health care runs $5,400/yr. The survey of 717 farm families, conducted by Agri-Safe of the Spencer Hospital, Spencer, IA, found income and insurance coverage are closely related. Some 8.4% of the farm families with income less than $25,000 have no health insurance, whereas only 1.7% with incomes greater than $100,000 have no health insurance. The survey represented 1,643 individuals, with 95.4% of those covered by health insurance. Of the respondents with insurance, 52.3% buy self-purchase plans and 47.6% use employee-sponsored plans. Just 1.4% participate in a Medicaid or public plan.