Challenger buy complete

AGCO Corporation has completed its acquisition of the design, assembly and marketing rights of the new MT series of Caterpillar's Challenger farm tractors.

AGCO will continue to manufacture the Challenger tractors in DeKalb, IL. The transaction was completed March 5, 2002. AGCO issued 1,020,356 shares of common stock in consideration of the purchase price and will provide technology and brand licensing fees for each applicable unit produced.

Ag lending strong

In spite of the volatile economic climate last year, Farm Credit Services posted a net income that was up 21% over that of the previous year. Year-end reports show net income for 2001 at $105.4 million compared with $86.8 million in 2000. The increase is credited to increased loan volume and decreased funding costs. The financial firm services nearly 50,000 customers in Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming. It reached some new milestones in 2001, including growing capital to $1 billion, realizing $1.8 billion in new loan commitments and achieving a 35% increase in written crop insurance premiums. For more information, visit www.fcsamerica.com.

StarLink settled

It appears a $9 million settlement will end the class action lawsuit filed against Kraft Foods, Kellogg, Azteca Foods, and Mission Foods, which sold products with StarLink corn. Also named in the lawsuit were Aventis CropScience, developer and marketer of StarLink corn, and Garst Seed Co., which sold seed contaminated with StarLink corn. The $9 million will be split, with $6 million distributed in food coupons and $3 million to administer the program and for attorney fees. The defendants continue to deny liability, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Syngenta sues Monsanto

Syngenta recently filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Delaware against Monsanto, claiming Monsanto is making false and misleading statements about Roundup herbicide and Syngenta's Touchdown herbicide. Syngenta states that Monsanto's promotion campaign makes false statements about the efficacy of Syngenta's Touchdown with IQ Technology brand and its safety on Roundup Ready crops.

Farm size survey

According to the USDA, there were 2.16 million farms in the country with 941.2 million acres in 2001. Those farms seem to be polarizing, with very large farms accounting for more income, a reduction in medium-sized farms, and an increased number of small “hobby” farms.

Looking at farm income, 54% of farms earn less than $10,000 annually, 30% have incomes from $10,000 to $99,999, and 16% have incomes of $100,000 or more. Not surprisingly, the biggest farms make the most income; 1.2% of farms use 9.6% of the acres and earn $1 million or more each year. Their average size is 3,490 acres, whereas the size of the average farm in the U.S. is 436 acres.

Monsanto delays RR wheat

In response to farmer concerns about overseas markets, Monsanto Company will slow its introduction of Roundup Ready wheat seed until at least 2004. The company says that in the interim it will attempt to educate both growers and foreign markets about the benefits of its latest herbicide-resistant seed.

New corn-based sweetener

Cargill Health & Food Technologies has introduced a new sweetener called Trehalose. Derived from cornstarch, Trehalose does not elicit a high insulin response because it is digested more slowly than other sugars. The product could be included in sports drinks and nutrition bars that claim to give “sustained energy.”