WEEKLY NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

NEWS BRIEFS COMPILED BY RED RIVER FARM NETWORK 

Agriculture is at the Dawn of a New Era — Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. That optimism comes from Sano Shimoda of BioScience Securities. The investment banker says ethanol is the driving force behind this sea change. "The whole focus on renewable fuels is persuading a lot of people that this is not a one-time thing; I think anybody in agribusiness, from the farmers to seed companies, crop protection companies and machinery companies, they are looking at a substantial improvement in their economic environment and bottom-line profit." Traditionally, Wall Street has shied away from agriculture, but that is changing. Shimoda says there are long-term opportunities in agriculture, but they will require a lot of capital. That's why Shimoda welcomes the excitement from the investment community.

BioFuels Security Act Introduced — Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan and Illinois Senator Barack Obama introduced the bill. It requires the production of flex-fuel vehicles and makes E85 fueling stations more readily available. "We have incentives in there for oil companies and small gas station operators to put in E85 pumps; we've put in a mandate for the automobile companies to produce E85 vehicles," said Harkin.

Dear George, — Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman and Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln have sent a letter to President Bush regarding the need for adequate funding for renewable fuels in the upcoming farm bill debate. According to www.agweb.com reporter Jim Wiesemeyer, the letter also urged Bush to refrain from proposing harmful cuts in his Fiscal Year 2008 budget requests. The budget request will be released February 5th.

Everything at the Top of the Food ChainRight-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. The current market situation brought an optimistic crowd to the Lake Region Extension Roundup. ProSeed Sales Manager Dave Ghertz said growers have plenty of choices. "I'm used to having one or two crops that are the cherry crops and the rest are kind of the bottom of the pack; everything is on the top of the food chain this year." Corn is getting most of the attention, but Ghertz says the fertilizer situation may force growers to reconsider soybeans. "I've had a couple growers say they were unable to buy any pre-buy urea; the price just went up and that's where it's going to be."

USDA Proposes Change in Border Restrictions — The proposed rule would allow live cattle, over 30 months of age, to enter the United States. "These proposed actions are an important move in our efforts to promote fair, science-based trade actions," said USDA Chief Veterinarian Dr. John Clifford, "I am confident in saying we can take this next step while at the same time protecting American agriculture and maintaining consumer confidence in the US beef supply."

Make Allowances Change Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. New 'make allowances' will go into effect February 1st for manufacturing grade milk. 'Make allowances' are part of the formula for pricing milk. Due to rising energy costs, milk processors have been seeking a change for the past year. "This decision only gets us about half of what we asked for," said Mark Furth, who manages AMPI, "The make allowances are based on data that go back to 1998 and now they brought up to 2004; that still misses out on '05 and '06, which were a couple of the biggest years for the energy cost increases." Furth says it is "inadequate, but it is something and we voted for the tentative decision."

Swine Genome Sequencing Grant — A $10 million USDA grant will help a consortium of researchers to develop a draft sequence for the swine genome. The sequencing project could reduce the risk of swine disease and improve production efficiency.

Canadian Firm Purchases SD Company — Ag Growth Income Fund, which is based in Winnipeg, has purchased Hansen Manufacturing of Sioux Falls. The Sioux Falls company produces belt conveyors that are used in grain handling facilities. The deal is worth $18.5 million.

Case IH Launches 8 New Maxxum Series Tractors — The Case IH announcement said the new series offers great fuel efficiency and more power options for livestock and row crop producers. Marketing Manager Tom Dean says the most visible difference is the new Case IH styling.

Vaccine Approved — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has approved an E. coli vaccine. A Canadian pharmaceutical company, BioNiche Life Sciences, created the cattle vaccine. It reduces the prevalence of the E. coli bacterium in cattle manure.

BSE-Free Breakthrough — A Sioux Falls biotech firm is gaining international attention for its latest research. Hematech researchers raised 12 dairy calves that don't have the naturally occurring prion proteins that cause BSE. The gene-altered cattle are healthy, but more testing will be done. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology.

Progressive DTN — DTN is expanding its media base by purchasing The Progressive Farmer magazine. Progressive Farmer was a subsidiary of Time Warner. Terms of the deal were not announced. DTN CEO Robert Gordon says this magazine allows his firm to expand beyond traditional commercial agriculture information to serve the farm lifestyle market.

Monsanto Q1 Report — Monsanto had first quarter net income of $90 million, which is an increase of 53 percent over one year ago. Chief Financial Officer, Terry Crews is pleased with the quarterly performance and the indicators for the new season. Crews says Monsanto has penciled in the large increase in corn acres for their yearly company projections.

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