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Corn Growers State Uncertainty Continues to Plague Genetically Modified 
Crops No Good News in Store for Biotechnology Companies as U.S. Farmers Turn 
Their Backs on th...

Updated 11:00 PM ET January 3, 2000 
TULSA, Okla., Jan. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- As corn producers enter the new year, 
the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) sees no change in the 
uncertainty facing genetically modified crops (GMOs). In fact, the 
likelihood is that both foreign and domestic opposition to these products 
will continue to grow. 
"Since last March, U.S. trading customers in Europe, Asia, India, Brazil, 
and Mexico have been very clear in their refusal to purchase GMOs. It is 
time our governmental leaders and grain exporters recognize this opposition 
and act accordingly," said Gary Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of the 
In Europe, most major supermarket chains are now rejecting genetically 
modified food products, while in Asia, major beer breweries and Japan's 
largest flour miller will stop using ingredients produced from GMOs. In 
Mexico, the nation's largest tortilla maker has announced that they will no 
longer purchase GMO corn. Brazil recently ripped out their GMO soybean seed 
crops so that they can supply the world with non-GMOs. 
"Everywhere we turn, our customers are rejecting GMOs. It is time that we 
return to the premise that the customer is always right, and that it is the 
responsibility of American agricultural producers to supply the market what 
it demands. In this case it is non-GMO products," added Goldberg. 
Other important issues that surround the GMO situation for the year 2000 
includes the questions of certification, segregation, cross-pollination, 
corporate concentration, product labeling and liability. 
The recent meeting of the National Grain and Feed Association included 
discussions of grain contracts that could allow an elevator to reject the 
delivery of GMOs. If this action were taken, not only would American farmers 
face the loss of foreign markets, but the likelihood of limited domestic 
markets to deliver their crops to. 
Recent statements by a leading agricultural economist for the Federal 
Reserve Bank predicted higher consumer food costs because of the expense to 
segregate, test and label GMO products. 
The liability question also continues to face agriculture. Who is legally 
responsible for contamination of a neighbor's field? Will farmer begin suing 
farmer over cross-pollination or will the liability rest with the seed corn 
companies where it belongs? On the issue of segregation and certification, 
who will bear the financial burden of testing crops and the added expense of 
keeping GMOs separate from non-GMOs? 
All indications point to a sizable reduction in GMO seed purchases for this 
coming season. The uncertainty over market availability caused by consumer 
resistance, and the questions of liability and segregation are driving 
farmers away from genetically modified seeds. The ACGA prediction of a 20 
percent to 25 percent reduction in GMO planted acres seems more likely 
"If production agriculture has not been able to answer these questions to 
their own satisfaction, they may want to consider planting alternatives to 
GMOs. After all, can farmers afford to plant a crop in the spring that may 
not be marketable come fall? Or will their GMO crop face sizable discounts 
come harvest time or even premiums for non-GMOs," added Goldberg. 
The American Corn Growers Association will continue to protect the interests 
of this nation's farmers who are caught in the middle of this dispute 
between seed dealers, chemical companies, grain exporters and processors, 
foreign consumers and U.S. trade policy. Through no fault of their own, 
farmers are facing the uncertainty of market loss, increased expenses and 
lower farm income. 
"The problems with genetically modified crops will not be going away anytime 
soon. Nor will the likelihood of questionable export markets, legal 
liability and increased costs for certification and segregation. We suggest 
that farmers examine their own individual farming operation to weight any 
benefits versus the risks of GMOs," concluded Goldberg 
Contact: Gary Goldberg of American Corn Growers Association, 918-488-1829, 
or email,
Genetically modified crops 
To plant or not to plant 
C H I C A G O 
JANUARY should be a quiet time for mid-western farmers. Instead, they find 
themselves facing one of the hardest farming decisions of the year: should 
they risk putting genetically modified (GM) crops in the ground, or not? 
For some, the agronomics are easy; they believe that GM products expand 
yields and lower costs. But if American consumers were to become suddenly 
concerned about Frankenstein foods, as some Asians and Europeans already 
have, then, come the autumn, farmers may be sitting on a bountiful harvest 
that has lost much of its value. 
[Image] AP 
What if no one will eat it? 
For a farmer like Darl Baumgardner, who grows maize (corn) and soyabeans in 
Illinois, there is much to like about GM crops. Bt corn, for example, uses 
a gene derived from a soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, to make the 
whole corn plant toxic to the corn-borer, a caterpillar that drills into 
the corn cob and destroys the crop. Herbicide-resistant soyabeans are 
engineered to be immune to a powerful herbicide that will kill all other 
vegetation on the cropland, making it easier for farmers to get rid of weeds. 
All in all, it is hardly surprising that the percentage of American 
soyabean acreage planted with GM soyabeans grew to over 50% in the four 
years after commercial introduction, an adoption rate nearly twice as fast 
as that for the most dominant agricultural technology of the past, hybrid 
corn. Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, a professor of agribusiness at the 
University of Missouri who has done those calculations, also reckons that 
the benefits to farmers of GM soyabean technology alone were in the order 
of $400m-$1 billion in 1999. When your correspondent drove into the 
heartland two years ago, farmers were effusive about the potential of 
Consumers, particularly those outside the United States, have not been so 
keen on the idea (see article). There is no credible evidence yet that GM 
foods present a health risk to consumers. But the European Union has 
withheld approval of some GM crop varieties until exhaustive trials are 
done, and many Europeans have decided that they would rather not buy those 
products that have been approved. Some large supermarket chains have 
refused to stock the stuff. 
The EU allows GM soyabeans, but it is increasingly looking to non-GM 
suppliers, such as Brazil, and to alternative ingredients. As a result, 
American soyabean exports to the EU have plunged from 398m bushels in 
1997-98 to an estimated 221m bushels in 1999-2000 (see chart). Bob Wisner, 
an Iowa State University economist, reckons this is the equivalent of 
losing a market for one out of every three bushels of soyabeans grown in 
Nor is the problem just in Europe. Both Japan and Korea have announced 
plans to begin labelling certain GM commodities (unprocessed corn and 
soyabeans) in the spring of 2001. A prominent Japanese soy-sauce 
manufacturer announced in December that it would use non-GM soyabeans in 
future. South of the border, Mexicos largest tortilla maker has announced 
that it will no longer purchase GM corn. 
American farmers find all this terribly frustrating. Hysteria, they say, 
has replaced science. Seed companies, such as Monsanto, have been 
ineffective in defending their new technology; some governments are using 
the biotechnology issue as an excuse for protectionism; environmentalists 
are attacking GM products even though some of them reduce the need for 
conventional pesticides and herbicides. But only one pressure group really 
matters to farmers. When it comes to deciding what to plant this spring, 
the consumer is king, says Neil Harl, an agricultural economist at Iowa 
State University. 
The biggest consumer of all, both literally and figuratively, is American. 
So far, there is no evidence of a widespread backlash in the United States 
against GM products. (Although organic standards in America are supposed 
to exclude GM products, one organic food store in Washington, DC, happily 
offers fruit and vegetables grown without pesticides which, in fact, have 
been genetically modified not to need them.) 
Still, there are small signs that should give farmers pause. In November, a 
bill was introduced in Congress that would require labelling for GM 
products. Purdue Chicken, one of Americas largest poultry producers, is 
positioning itself not to use any GM feed, says Mr Harl. A farmer with a 
crop six weeks in the ground may well fear that he will wake up and read 
that a large American fast-food company will no longer buy beef that has 
been fed GM corn. Once the crops in the ground, you know, you cant back 
it up, says Roger Janssen, an Illinois seed dealer: you are stuck with it, 
like it or not. 
Farmers bear the bulk of the risk as consumers sort out what they want. 
Food processors do not have to commit themselves to a price until the crop 
comes in. A spokesman for Archer Daniels Midland, one of Americas largest 
food-processing firms, says the market is a moving target. Cargill said 
in a December letter that it will buy whatever American farmers grow this 
year, but noted that premiums may be paid for identity-preserved grains 
and oilseeds [ie, any grains and oilseeds that have been handled separately 
from the bulk] that meet specific customer requirements. With farm prices 
at historic lows, the premium paid for growing the right crop might mean 
the difference between making money and not making money (or between losing 
a little money and losing a lot). 
Mr Baumgardner says his GM corn yielded 30 more bushels per acre last year 
than the non-GM corn he planted. Still, he plans to trim his GM corn this 
year from 70% of his acreage to 30%. Tamara White, director of commodities 
for the Illinois Farm Bureau, travels around the state discussing the issue 
with farmers. Each week more people are deciding that theyre not going to 
risk it, she says. The American Corn Growers Association has predicted a 
20-25% reduction in GM corn acreage. 
But picking the right crop to grow is only the beginning of the problem. 
Its one thing to say, We want all GMO-free products. Its another thing 
to deliver, says Mr Baumgardner. All crops, conventional or GM, 
contaminate one another. Pollen can drift a quarter of a mile or more; one 
farmers GM crop can cross-pollinate his neighbours. Farmers selling 
non-GM grains are asked to certify the purity of their product at the point 
of sale; they fear being held liable for grain contaminated in storage, in 
transit, or at other points in the supply chain. 
The only solution is testing for purity at every point in the supply chain, 
says Mr Harl. Even then, some level of impurity must be tolerable. Experts 
reckon a 5% tolerance for contamination is feasible; the 1% level discussed 
in the EU, or the 0.1% level under discussion in Congress and among certain 
European retail groups, may be too costly. 
One possible result is that the current generation of GM products will be 
driven off the farm, not because they are unsafe or ineffective but because 
the costs of segregating them are too high. The next generation may fare 
differently. By then, GM crops may well have properties (say, medical, 
nutritional, or even industrial) that will be of greater interest to 
consumers, and the cost of segregating them could be passed on in the final 
price. Until then, Mr Baumgardner and his colleagues will just have to hang 

BRIDGE OUTLOOK 2000: Seed firms rush to offset GMO 

January 14, 2000

By Myrle Croasdale, Bridge News
Chicago--Jan 13--Consumer concerns about the safety of 
genetically modified grains seem to be snowballing 
around the globe. In the midst of the hubbub, anecdotal 
reports tell of a seed industry being placed in an 
unfamiliar role: having to aggressively market its 
biotechnology to US Midwest farmers for the growing 
season ahead in an attempt to maintain growers' faith in 
the technology in which the companies have heavily 

* * *

The end result--what this will mean in terms of acreage 
and yields for the next US crop year--is still undecided.
Rogers Selley, agricultural economist at the University of 
Nebraska in Clay Center, Neb., said there have been more 
television advertisements promoting genetically altered 
seeds in his area then he has ever seen at this point in 
the winter season.
"It looks as if a lot of money is being spent on advertising 
GMO (genetically modified) seed," Selley told Bridge News. 
"This was not an issue last year."
Regardless, he expects farmers in his area to plant what 
makes the most economic sense to them.
Mark Lambert, communications director for the Illinois 
Corn Growers Association, said most farmers remain in 
favor of biotechnology, but at the moment they feel let 
down by the seed industry.
"It's the future," Lambert said of GMO crops. "Farmers 
have no question that it's safe, but find it appalling that 
seed is sold that is not approved for (sale to) the EU."
Lambert said Monsanto was among the companies 
actively reaching out to farmers on the topic of GMOs.
"Monsanto has been holding area meetings," he said. 
"Farmers have a lot of questions. They're concerned about 
marketing strategies. It's a big question--whether they 
can sell their (GM) crops or not. There's a growing 
realization the customer is not the elevator but the 
end-user, which in turn affects (elevators') buying."
Still, Doyle Karr, corporate communications spokesperson 
for Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa, 
one of the largest seed suppliers in the US, said his 
company's marketing budget and strategy were almost 
the same as last year's.
"We're staying with the same marketing campaign and 
ads, which talk about the performance and value of our 
products," Karr said.
He said seed prices, GMO or conventional, were nearly flat 
compared with a year ago.
"Pricing has more to do with the farm economy than 
anything else," he said, and historical low grain prices are 
keeping seed prices down.
Karr said Pioneer was not trying to push genetically 
modified grains so much as trying to help farmers 
determine what their best options are.
"We've been working closely with sales representatives (to 
show them how) to give farmers a choice, whether it's Bt 
corn or a conventional hybrid--an informed choice. We've 
been putting as much information as we can on our web 
site, and we're encouraging fa rmers to talk with their 
grain purchasers, their local elevators, since the issue is 
marketability," Karr said.
Roundup Ready corn hybrids and many Bt corn varieties 
are among the genetically altered crops not approved for 
import to the European Union. Those hybrids are 
approved for use in the US.
Rich Feltes, research director with Refco, said consumers 
were leaning more and more against the biotech 
movement and genetically altered grains.
"The events in Seattle, at the World Trade Organization 
talks, galvanized the opposition," Feltes said. "More 
people seem to be aware of (GMOs) now than a year ago. 
The story in Japan is that the soft drink manufacturers 
want to make a wholesale switch from high fructose corn 
syrup to beet sugar--that's another warning bell. At the 
producer end, there is a whole torrent of incentives to get 
farmers to commit to GMO seed. Seed companies are 
sensing this is a critical time."
Biotech seed firms are addressing the GMO issue up front, 
telling farmers to make sure they have open marketing 
channels for GMO grain when they plant it. Promotional 
material for Roundup Ready corn lays out options such as 
feeding the grain on farm, selling it to livestock producers 
or selling it to feed processors for domestic use, should 
global opposition stall the movement of the grain into the 
export market.
It is not clear, however, that all elevators that bought GMO 
corn or corn not approved for import to the EU in 1999 will 
do so again next fall.
"I know a large Iowa elevator chain that's telling farmer 
clients flat out to not plant GMO, because they're involved 
in soybean processing and want to get a premium for 
GMO-free soymeal," one grain analyst said.
With events constantly unfolding on biotech grains, 
farmers may wait longer than usual to make their 
decisions on what to plant, analysts said. But those 
concerned about shortages of conventional hybrids may 
act sooner rather than later.
Seed companies maintain there will be no seed shortages, 
but many market watchers remain skeptical.
Analysts have said growers who supply corn for feed 
probably would stay with Bt corn and other genetically 
altered hybrids in 2000-01, while many anticipate those 
who sell to the food industry and to exporters to give GM 
crops a wide berth.
The money saved from fewer pesticide and herbicide 
applications--the biggest selling point for GMO crops at 
this stage--will be factored into the decision-making 
process. Farmers who have not had heavy corn borer 
infestations recently may think twice about planting Bt 
The ICGA's Lambert said Illinois corn growers were going 
to lower GMO corn plantings because they typically supply 
corn processors or sell directly into the export market.
He said Illinois exports 40% of its corn and more than 
50% of its soybeans and doesn't have enough feedlots to 
make that market a significant outlet if elevators balk at 
genetically modified grains.
To capture a sense of ICGA members' spring planting 
plans, the organization recently ran a survey that showed 
a large number committed to do things differently in 
Eighty percent of members surveyed said they would grow 
what the customer wanted as long as it was a reasonable 
production decision. For 2000-01 corn planting intentions, 
47% said they would not plant biotech products 
unapproved by the EU, but would plant approved as well 
as non-biotech corn. Thirty three percent said they would 
plant only non-GMO corn.
Lambert said many farmers have booked their seed early 
because of availability concerns.
In Nebraska, where producers have more opportunity to 
sell to the domestic livestock industry, Selley said farmers 
"are going with what makes the most sense for them. In 
some cases, non-GMO means less seed cost and the 
weed control is still OK. In other cases, Roundup Ready 
soybeans will be profitable. In central Nebraska, the past 
couple of years we haven't had big corn-borer problems. 
Farmers are looking at ways to reduce costs with the 
prospect of low prices, so some are going to go with 
non-Bt corn. I sense we may end up with less Bt seed 
planted this year than the previous year."
Harry Cooney, commodity adviser for MID-CO 
Commodities in Bloomington, Ill., said the GMO issue was 
getting murkier by the day, leaving farmers searching for 
"I don't think producers have a firm handle on what 
they're going to plant yet," he said. "It's a mess. There's 
no indication that GMOs are definitely OK."
On the other hand, most central Illinois elevators are 
geared toward handling regular corn, not specialty corn, 
Cooney said, and the money isn't available to pay for a 
parallel grain-handling system or small storage bins to 
segregate non-GMO crops from GMO. End
For additional stories on the outlook for GMO plantings in 
the US this year, see stories .18410 and .18514.
For more BRIDGE OUTLOOK reports Bridge and Telerate 
users double click on: .2003 BRIDGE OUTLOOK 2000 
headlines - Americas .2004 BRIDGE OUTLOOK 2000 
headlines - Asia .2005 BRIDGE OUTLOOK 2000 headlines 
- Europe/ Mideast/Africa
Bridge News, Tel: (312) 454-3483
Send comments to Internet address:
] BRIDGE OUTLOOK 2000: US farmers lean toward fewer 
GMO acres

January 14, 2000

By Tim Todd, Bridge News
Kansas City--Jan 13--As spring crop planting edges closer, 
some US farmers are at least considering a move away 
from controversial but popular genetically modified seeds. 
But the scope of any shift back to traditional seeds is 
difficult to ascertain.

* * *

With some growers postponing seed purchases as long as 
possible and others ordering both traditional and altered 
varieties as a way of hedging their bets, seed industry 
observers say they cannot yet determine what percentage 
of US corn and soybean acreage will consist of genetically 
altered crops.
Although widely popular with US farmers since their 1996 
introduction, genetically modified products have been the 
source of much debate in Europe, where officials have 
refused to approve some altered foods while consumers 
there, and even some food sellers, have rejected those 
items that have been approved.
"It's an extremely challenging decision for US farmers 
(and) I wouldn't be surprised if some farmers cut back in 
GMO planting," said Bob Wisner, a farm economist at 
Iowa State University.
However, he notes that indications of what's going to 
happen with the 2000 crop offer conflicting views.
Whereas some growers tell him they are thinking about a 
move away from the biotechnology, the seed industry is 
not indicating it has experienced any kind of significant 
shift either way.
An official with the American Corn Growers Association 
suggests GMO planting in the US may be down by as 
much as 25%. But a farmer survey by a St. Louis firm 
suggests planting intentions are similar to those of a year 
ago, when one-third of the corn and nearly two-thirds of 
the soybeans were grown from altered seeds.
"You could talk to 100 different farmers and get 100 
different answers," one Iowa seed seller said.
LARGE SEED COMPANIES such as Monsanto say they have 
not seen a significant shift away from GMO seed 
purchases. DuPont's seed-making arm, Pioneer Hi-Bred, 
says it is too early to make a determination on where its 
seed sales numbers are headed, although a spokesman 
offers that "there is definitely interest" in GMOs.
Seed orders, however, are running later than usual, 
according to industry watchers--although that statement is 
disputed by some in the industry.
Additionally, reports from the countryside indicate that 
some farmers, fearful of a run on traditional seeds, are 
double-booking--ordering both the conventional and 
altered varieties with plans to cancel one of the shipments 
later. Seed companies, however, say they have not seen 
widespread evidence of that.
Seed "orders are behind (schedule), so clearly people are 
taking their time to consider what to do," said Don 
Carson, a seed industry analyst with J.P. Morgan.
Monsanto contends that orders have been moving closer 
to planting season for the past few years because farmers 
have an increasing number of choices. This year's buying 
is no later than a year ago, a spokeswoman said.
"We're not seeing any kind of lag on the pace of orders," 
Monsanto's Lori Fisher said.
Pioneer spokesman Doyle Karr said there is "some 
suggestion" that farmers are delaying purchases, but 
adds that issues such as farm policy and current price 
levels are affecting the decision as much as the debate on 
SOME INDUSTRY WATCHERS are leery about offering exact 
estimates on where they see GMO acres heading, 
although there does not seem to be much expectation of 
a widespread move away from the technology, despite the 
European resistance.
They note that the issue comes down to a farm-by-farm 
decision based on factors such as pest and weed pressure 
to local price levels and where the grain is eventually sold.
Even if the crops are sold at a location where there is a 
price premium for GMO-free grain, that premium may not 
merit a move away from the technology.
"If the farmer plants non-GMO, he has to prove it's 
non-GMO to get any premium," said Christine McCracken, 
an agribusiness analyst with Midwest Research. "The 
chance of contamination occurring (is high)...for all he 
knows, the seed could be contaminated."
At the other side of the spectrum is Merrill Lynch food 
analyst Leonard Teitelbaum, who in a recent report 
suggests a large decline in GMO acres of both corn and 
soybeans grown by US farmers.
"Overall, the total number of acres planted with GM seeds 
is expected to decline at least 20% in the year 2000 
growing season," Teitelbaum wrote, adding that the actual 
outcome may not be known until next spring.
Meanwhile, Carson said that planting decisions will 
"depend on what the negative news flow is" between now 
and the start of planting in about 3 months.
Because most of the US corn crop is sold into the feed 
market, Wisner said any indication that consumers might 
begin to reject beef raised on a diet that includes altered 
grains could lead to a significant shift away from GMOs.
"That could have a major impact because roughly 
two-thirds to three-fourths of the market for our corn is in 
domestic livestock feeding," he said, adding that he has 
heard no reports of concern on the feed front.
Because they can sell to livestock feeding operations in 
the Plains and parts of the western Midwest, farmers in 
those regions are seen as less likely to move away from 
planting altered crops. At the other end of the spectrum 
are farmers in the eastern Midwest and near river 
locations, who may be more likely to sell crops into export 
However, those decisions will vary by individual locations 
and the marketplace could change, industry watchers 
note, with plantin g for some Midwestern growers still 3 
months away.
The only thing that appears totally clear is that GMOs are 
a concern across farm country.
"I think the uncertainty is probably as high as it can be," 
said Cress Hizer, chief executive of the Indiana Seed 
Trade Association. " Typically, weather has been the topic 
of discussion at most coffee shops--I would say this issue 
rivals it, to say the least." End
For more BRIDGE OUTLOOK reports Bridge and Telerate 
users double click on: .2003 BRIDGE OUTLOOK 2000 
headlines - Americas .2004 BRIDGE OUTLOOK 2000 
headlines - Asia .2005 BRIDGE OUTLOOK 2000 headlines 
- Europe/ Mideast/Africa For additional stories on the 
outlook for GMO plantings this year see stories .18398 
and .18410.
Bridge News, Tel: (913) 323-8017
Send comments to Internet address:
For Immediate Release 
Gary Goldberg, 918-488-1829 
Survey of 400 Farmers At Farm Bureau Convention Shows Reductions 
TULSA, OKů..January 13, 2000---Forecasts made by the American Corn Growers 
Association (ACGA) over six months ago are coming true with the results of 
a recent survey. The survey, conducted by Reuters at the annual convention 
of the American Farm Bureau Convention, shows a sizeable reduction in 
genetically modified (GMO) crop acres for 2000 compared to 1999.
"The continued uncertainty over marketability is leading farmers away from 
GMO's in droves," said Gary Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of the ACGA. 
"Coupled with the questions over certification, segregation, 
cross-pollination, corporate concentration and liability, it is not 
surprising that agricultural producers will be returning to conventional 
seeds for this coming planting season."
The survey, conducted on 400 farmers planting a total of 438,614 acres, 
shows a reduction of 22% on Roundup Ready corn and 24% on Bt corn. In 
addition, these same farmers show a reduction in Roundup Ready soybeans of 
U.S. farmers have been placed in the middle of a debate between seed 
dealers, chemical companies, grain processors, grain exporters, foreign and 
domestic consumers and American trade policy. While promised higher yields, 
decreased input costs and more efficiency, U.S. farmers believe the 
uncertainty over loss of export markets and the increased costs of testing, 
certifying and segregating their GMO versus non-GMO just isn't worth it.
"Our hope is that our trade representatives will now placed more emphasis 
on providing our foreign customers what they demand instead of forcing them 
to purchase a product they simply don't want. This will help recapture the 
markets we have lost over the issue of genetically modified crops. After 
all, the customer is always right and we must never forget that simple 
fact," concluded Goldberg.

Wheat Acreage Is Lowest Since 1972 Farmers Cut Back Amid Depressed 
Grain Prices
Wheat Acreage Is Lowest Since 1972 Farmers Cut Back Amid Depressed 
Grain Prices 
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Farmers planted less than 43 million acres of winter wheat last fall, 
the smallest amount since 1972, as producers trying to cope with 
depressed grain prices continue switching to more lucrative crops, the 
government said Wednesday.
Plantings of winter wheat are down 1 percent from last season's crop 
and 8 percent below 1998, according to surveys by the Agriculture 
Department. About three-fourths of the wheat produced in the United 
States is a winter variety, which is planted in the fall and harvested 
the following spring.
Wheat plantings started dropping after Congress enacted the 1996 
Freedom to Farm law, which ended production controls and let farmers 
start switching between crops without losing subsidies.
"With Freedom to Farm we've had the ability to try to go to crops that 
have a better potential to be more profitable," said Dean Stoskopf, 
president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers. "With the wheat 
prices we have had the last couple of years, the incentive is to do 
something different."
Farm commodity prices collapsed in 1998 and are expected to rise only 
slowly over the next several years because of the heavy production and 
big surpluses worldwide.
Support has been building in Congress and among farm groups to come up 
with a new subsidy program that would guarantee farmers a higher 
income in periods when prices are low. The nation's largest farm 
organization, the American Farm Bureau Federation, in the past has 
resisted altering the 1996 law, but endorsed such a proposal Wednesday 
during its annual convention in Houston.
Prices for the 1999 wheat crop are averaging $2.50 to $2.60 a bushel, 
down from $2.65 in 1998 and $3.38 in 1997, the Agriculture Department 
USDA also issued year-end reports on 1999 crops: 
* The corn harvest reached 9.4 billion bushels, down 3 percent from 
the year before but still the fourth-largest on record.
* Soybean production fell 4 percent to 2.6 billion bushels but was 
still the third-largest ever.
* Wheat production, including spring varieties, was 2.3 billion 
bushels, 10 percent less than 1998.
* The rice crop was a record 21 billion pounds, up 12 percent from 
1998. The cotton crop was up 22 percent to 17 million bales.
Meanwhile, USDA slightly raised its estimates of the prices that 
farmers are getting for their 1999 crops of wheat, corn and soybeans to 
reflect heavier-than-expected demand. Soybeans and wheat were raised 5 
cents a bushel, and corn, 10 cents.
Publication date: Jan 13, 2000
"America, the most efficient producer of food in the world, is going out of
business because it can no longer compete."
According to Steven Blank, Ph.D., in "The End of Agriculture in the American
Portfolio," America is going out of the business of agriculture and he has the
numbers and projections to prove it. Blank, a professor with the Agriculture
and Resource Economics Department at UC Davis, maintains that America simply
cannot afford to participate in high-risk, low-return industries like
agriculture, and for that reason, agricultural production in America is
destined to end.
"America doing agriculture is a bit like a Ph.D. doing child's work-- its a
The January 15, 2000 edition of Saturday Morning Agriculture will feature a
conversation with Steven Blank about the end of agriculture in the American
portfolio of industries. The show will air at 9am Pacific and may be heard
throughout Central California on AM 1080 KSCO and AM 1340 KOMY. 
Questions are expected to include: If America is the most efficient
producer of
food in the world, why can it no longer compete? What specific economic forces
are at work to end the production of food in the U.S? Are these economic
also at work in other developed nations? Which nations will then produce our
This edition of Saturday Morning Agriculture will be archived for your
leisure-time listening on the radio page at The archived
will include a discussion board so that you may ask questions of Dr. Blank and
leave comments for others interested in the subject.

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