Magazine awards

Farm Industry News won a number of magazine awards this past spring and summer for its writing and design. The cover of our February 2002 issue won third place for best cover in the national competition of the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). The ATV Rodeo and Truck Rodeo stories published last year won first place and second place, respectively, for best feature story in the ASBPE regional competition.

In the American Agricultural Editors' Association's design, photography and writing contests, Farm Industry News took home five awards. The January 2003 cover earned Magazine Cover of the Year in the photography competition that includes national and regional farm publications. The magazine also won awards for overall magazine design, cover page design and two-plus page design. The story “Hiring smarts” by Jodie Wehrspann took second place in the on-farm production category of the writing contest.

Equipment trends

Cautious optimism continues in the world of ag machinery sales. In late July, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers released its mid-year agricultural equipment sales forecast. The report, based on the opinions of 46 ag equipment manufacturers, predicts modest gains in total sales of farm tractors in the U.S. and Canada for 2003, with stronger growth in 2004. Though the largest gains are expected to be in sales of 2-wd tractors with less than 40 hp, larger 4-wd tractors are expected to be in demand as well, especially in 2004.

The report cites interest rate levels, credit availability, stronger grain export markets and government payments as positive factors in farmers' improved attitudes toward buying new equipment. Negative factors include a surplus of used equipment and higher new equipment prices. See www.aem.org for the full report.

Mahindra plans to acquire Valtra

Word among European and U.S. tractor dealers is that the Indian utility vehicle and tractor manufacturer Mahindra is planning to acquire the Finnish tractor manufacturer Valtra Inc, part of the Finnish engineering group KONE Corporation. Though Mahindra and Valtra sell primarily to Europe and the Far East, both companies have been trying to expand their distribution in the U.S.

Syngenta could acquire seed company

At a recent financial meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, company officials at Syngenta indicated that they are interested in acquiring another seed company.

Citing a stronger financial position after successfully consolidating operations and introducing new crop protection products, the company now sees a need to round out its corn and soybean portfolio. Though they did not mention a specific company as a target, officials did say that a seed company with a strong line of hybrids and varieties in southern, full-season U.S. markets would be especially attractive.

Syngenta, formed by the merger of Novartis and Zeneca Ag Products, stands as the world's largest seller of crop protection products. The company currently holds the number-three position in seed with the Syngenta NK Seeds brand.