Wireless Internet access

Data Transmission Network (DTN) introduces two new wireless services for rural residents.

First, if you want high-speed, high-quality Internet access or are looking for a system that is faster than your current modem to transmit large amounts of data, DTN introduces DTN Speed.Net. This service provides three types of Internet access: high-speed wireless access that is up to 25 times faster than dial-up ($49.95/month for individual); a high-quality local dial-up using a 56K modem for $19.95/month; or an 800 number dial-up for $19.95/month, plus a $3.95/hr. fee. Users must pay an up-front equipment fee of $299 and own a Pentium 166 MHz (or faster) processor, preferably running Windows 95 or newer. Contact DTN at 800/847-5231, visit www.dtn.com.

Another new service is DTN Rover, which gives you 24-hr. access to time-sensitive daily ag news, market quotes and weather in your truck, combine or tractor. All you need is a cell phone and Palm Pilot equipped with DTN Rover software. Monthly service starts at $19.95 if you already have Internet access. Farmers without an existing Internet service can still get 100 min. of DTN Rover for $24.95/month or 200 min. for $29.95/month. Contact DTN, Dept. FIN, 9110 West Dodge Rd., Suite 200, Omaha, NE 68114, 800/511-0095, www.dtnrover.com.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match - Gil Gullickson

It may lack the glitz and glamour, but CornXchange.com mimics the television show The Dating Game.

That's because this new Web site matches sellers with buyers of specialty corn. “It's like a dating service,” says Steve Halloran, CEO of AgriOne, an Ames, IA, firm that helped design the Web site. “Our goal is to bring private treaty sellers together. The buyer has always had the mechanism to communicate with sellers, but sellers have not had that contact.”

AgriOne designed the site for the concept's originator, the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA). The idea isn't new; similar Internet sites exist. However, this site is the only one for farmers directed by farmers, says Craig Floss, CEO of ICGA.

“We wanted to create a site that would give growers a chance to create markets for themselves,” Floss says. “This becomes important as we enter more and more identity-preserved markets.”

Making a connection Sellers may list their old-crop corn, new-crop corn or corn to be grown under contract for a $100 annual fee. Meanwhile, buyers purchase a $100 annual package. Each inquiry costs $1. If buyers exhaust inquiries, they may purchase another $100 package.

Sellers may specify the type and amount of grain that they wish to sell. They can also add comments and list product attributes that may appeal to specific end users.

Users remain anonymous until buyers and sellers wish to contact each other. The inquiring party will e-mail his or her name and demographic data, and it's up to the other party to e-mail, phone or fax back to begin negotiations.

The Web site is purely a price discovery tool, Floss says. At no time does it own corn or transact sales. Instead, it helps farmers connect electronically while still doing business face to face.

“Selling grain over the Internet is tough for farmers,” Halloran says. “In general, growers have anxiety selling grain without any voice contact. They want control over making the contract. With this system, a seller can contact a buyer electronically and then take over from there.”

Participation is open to all farmers across the country. The ICGA is currently building a network of state corn grower organizations and other groups to co-sponsor the Web site.

Keeping costs down Unlike many other agricultural Web sites, CornXchange.com gives no weather information or news. This streamlined approach eliminates the need to raise venture capital. Instead, sponsorships and user fees fund the site.

“It's just another way to add value to corn production,” says Fred Stemme, communications and marketing director of the Missouri Corn Growers Association. “What excited our board of directors is it's operated by and for corn growers. It's a way for us to list the product we have available for purchase.”

Contact the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Dept. FIN, 1200 35th St., Suite 306, West Des Moines, IA 50266, 515/225-9242, e-mail info@cornXchange.com.