Bayer confirms purchase

In early October, Bayer announced it will buy Aventis CropScience for $4.9 billion, which includes assuming $1.7 billion in debt. This deal makes Bayer the world's second largest supplier of farm chemicals and seed. As part of the acquisition, Bayer will eliminate 4,000 jobs, about 18% of the Bayer/Aventis workforce.

YieldGard lawsuits dismissed

Monsanto and DuPont have resolved issues regarding Monsanto's MON810 YieldGard insect-protected corn trait. As a result, lawsuits over the development, licensing and sale of the corn products have been dropped. Pioneer Hi-Bred International will continue to offer the YieldGard hybrids under a royalty-bearing license from Monsanto.

Online rent bids

Landowners and farm operators interested in new rent agreements may now reach each other on a Web site operated by Farmers National Company, www.farmer-national.com. The Cash Rent Network lets landowners post their farms on the site for a fee, and farm operators can post cash rent bids.

DeKalb/Dow patent dispute ended

DeKalb Genetics, a subsidiary of Monsanto, settled a patent dispute with Dow AgroSciences over use of Bt insect-resistance technology. Dow has obtained a license to DeKalb patents that will allow it to sell Herculex corn and other Dow Bt products intended to control corn rootworm. Dow will pay a royalty to DeKalb. In a statement from the companies, DeKalb Chairman Bruce Bickner stated, “This settlement agreement and license provides the foundation for a new relationship between Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences….”

Lower fuel prices predicted

Expect lower costs for heating fuel this winter, especially for natural gas, which in turn will keep spring fertilizer costs down. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released an optimistic winter fuels price outlook in October. Economists in the government agency anticipate that heating bills will be lower than those of last winter. Here's the reasoning:

Milder winter Experts predict a “normal” winter, which means there should be 7% fewer heating degree days than there were last winter.

Plentiful supplies Most inventories of key heating fuels including natural gas are up from a year ago. This means more product to insulate price spikes when demand jumps.

Lower crude oil prices EIA anticipates crude oil prices to be down 7% from a year ago. Weaker economic conditions in the United States and abroad along with a normal winter should put pressure on crude oil prices and drop them slightly.

Lower consumer fuel prices The government agency expects consumer natural gas prices to be 29% lower than last year and fuel oil prices to be 13% lower. Those lower prices and lower usage rates should lower winter heating bills for typical households.