Syngenta, Bayer end patent dispute

Recently, Syngenta and Bayer reached an agreement on intellectual property disputes regarding neonicotinois chemistry. Under the agreement terms, Syngenta will pay Bayer $120 million in return for full access to crop protection and related markets worldwide. Now Syngenta will be able to market its thiamethoxam brands, which include Actara, Cruiser, Helix, Platinum and Centric. Bayer will continue to market its imidacloprid-based insecticides Confidor, Admire and Gaucho as well as the new-generation chloronicotinyl insecticide Calypso.

Commodity groups differ on GM corn legislation

Call it a case of philosophical differences. Keith Dittrich, a corn farmer from Tilden, NE, and president of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA), is speaking out against government legislation that his group says would force foreign buyers to accept genetically modified (GM) corn. At issue is Section 333 of S. 1731, The Agriculture, Conservation, and Rural Enhancement Act of 2001. “We feel this legislation will be used as a means to force foreign grain buyers and consumers into accepting genetically modified organisms/crops,” Dittrich warned. The ACGA claims GM crops have already been forced onto U.S. farmers, leading to declining corn exports to Europe and Japan in recent years.

This opinion contrasts sharply with the position of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), which in late December contributed to a letter of support for the same legislation. In its letter, the AgBiotech Planning Committee, of which the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is a member, urged members' strong support for Section 333, positioning the legislation as “directing the government to assist exporters of U.S. commodities who are harmed by unwarranted and arbitrary barriers to trade related to the sale of biotechnology products.”

U.S. corn exports to European Union countries, which stood at 2.8 million metric tons in the 1995-96 marketing year, fell to just 6,300 metric tons last year. In 2001, Japan imported 52 million metric tons less of U.S. corn than it did in the previous year.

Virtual Cat

Driving by a Caterpillar dealership with tractors and combines on the lot, it may not look like the company has bowed out of the farm equipment business. But that's exactly what's happened. In December, Caterpillar sold its line of Challenger track tractors to AGCO, with the agreement that Cat dealers would be the primary distributors of Challenger products. Now, German-based Claas is buying out Caterpillar's half of what was a 50/50 joint Lexion combine venture known as Caterpillar Claas America LLC (CCA). The deal between Claas and Caterpillar includes a recently built combine factory in Omaha, NE, which will continue operations uninterrupted. Though now owned entirely by Claas, the high-performance, premium-priced Lexion combine line will continue to be painted yellow, branded Caterpillar and distributed exclusively by Caterpillar dealers in North America.

Ag equipment sales slow

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) predicts that farm equipment sales will be slow in 2002. In an annual survey of the largest ag equipment companies, respondents forecast a 3.3% drop in sales of all farm tractors from sales totals of last year. The 2-wd, 100+ PTO hp tractors are expected to be hit the worst, with sales estimates down 4.4%. Although self-propelled combines experienced increased sales of 12.8% last year, this year will not be so rosy. Manufacturers predict combine sales will be down 6% for 2002.

Ag equipment expected to be big sellers includes farm loaders and air seeders/air drills. Other farm field machines that will be popular are round balers, mower conditioners, windrowers/swathers, chisel plows and disk harrows. Overall, the manufacturers expect sales of field equipment to be up 3.6% for 2002 over last year.

Printed copies of the “2002 State of the Ag Industry Outlook” are available from AEM for $25 each. Contact AEM at 312/321-1470 or visit www.aem.org.