URBANDALE, Iowa – Can we continue to compete with South America? That question is uppermost in the minds of U.S. soybean producers as they plant their crop this spring.

Breakout sessions at this year’s Midwest Soybean Conference will provide answers to that question – straight from the people who have firsthand knowledge from visits to Brazil and Argentina this past winter.

The sixth annual Midwest Soybean Conference convenes in Des Moines Aug. 10-12, 2001, providing producers with 14 different breakout sessions, including two panel discussions on South America – one focusing on crop production, the other on the region’s transportation infrastructure.

One of the panel members is Ron Heck, a soybean producer from Perry, and a frequent visitor to South America. "Even when Brazil improves its transportation infrastructure, its production problems will persist," Heck says. "U.S. soybean farmers will always be able to produce and ship beans for less than farmers in the Cerrados area of Brazil." (The Cerrados region encompasses a total of 511.5 million acres.)

Heck cites higher fertilizer costs, lower yields, fewer varieties and poorer soil as reasons why. "Short-term currency changes are sending false signals to both U.S. and Brazilian producers," he says.

Iowa farmers Ray Gaesser of Corning and Paul Gaffney of Aurora will team up with Heck for the crop production panel discussion, as will Iowa State University (ISU) agronomist Lance Gibson. Economist Phil Baumel will represent ISU on the transportation infrastructure discussion, together with the three farmers .

All this, and more, awaits you at the Midwest Soybean Conference. For registration information, producers should call the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) at 1 800-383-1423, or register on-line at www.iasoybeans.com.

Midwest Soybean Conference is sponsored by American Agrisurance, Inc., Stine Seed Company, Pioneer, Monsanto, the United Soybean Board, and state soybean checkoff boards in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan. Soybean Digest is the official media sponsor of the conference.