Soybean meal in the U.S. is of higher digestible quality than soybean meal available from other countries, according to a recent United Soybean Board checkoff-funded survey.

Soybean meal samples were collected from the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, India, Europe, Thailand, China and the Philippines.

U.S. soybean meal was also found to have a high amino acid content, which offers greater digestibility and weight gain by animals consuming it.

Biotech Crop Ban To End. Brazil will soon be producing biotech soybeans, corn and cotton, according to its ag minister, Marcus Vinicius Pratini de Moraes.

The biggest ag producer in Latin America, Brazil currently bans the use of the biotech crops. But the country has been researching the subject and Pratini de Moraes is optimistic about the possibilities for value-added crops in food products. If the market wants non-biotech crops, it will have to pay a premium, the ag minister adds.

Does Bt Benefit Butterflies? Monarch butterflies are at very little risk from Bt corn products. So says a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review of available scientific information.

"Some authors are predicting that the widespread cultivation of Bt crops may have a huge benefit for monarch butterfly survival," according to EPA.

After a peer review and public comments, the agency will use this information to reach decisions regarding renewal of registrations for several Bt products.

"This rigorous review of the vast array of scientific information about foods and crops improved through biotechnology refutes once again the claims of antibiotechnology critics," according to Val Giddings, a Biotechnology Industry Organization vice president.

Mycogen Seeds Deal Closes. Mycogen Seeds' acquisition of Cargill Hybrid Seeds has been completed. Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The new assets will help Mycogen, which is affiliated with Dow AgroSciences, provide a larger and efficient way of delivering seeds and biotechnology products.

Federal Crop Payment Rates To Drop. The Agricultural Market Transition Act (AMTA) crop payment rates will drop considerably in 2001, according to USDA.

The rate for corn in the coming year is almost 20% lower than this year's rate - 26.8/bu compared to 33.4/bu this year, says Ken Thiesse, Blue Earth County educator with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

"At this point, there is no guarantee that Congress will authorize another extra AMTA payment on the 2001 crop. However, some type of short-term income support will likely be necessary again in 2001 if the current low grain prices continue," Thiesse adds.

Cash Grain Market Venture. Five companies are making the move to put the commodities business online. Cenex Harvest States, Cargill Inc., Dupont, Louis Dreyfus Corp. and ADM are working to form an Internet-based cash grain market venture, called Pradium, Inc. It will offer trading in grains, oilseeds and other by-products.

Initial trading, according to Pradium's Web site (www1.pradium. com) will include nine virtual trading pits devoted to trading cash corn and soybeans, as well as commodity by-products: wheat middlings, soy hulls, corn gluten feed, corn gluten meal, meat and bone meal, corn hominy and distillers dried grains.

Correction: Last month in "Turning Down Profit," page 7, the peak price for 2001 soybeans in the table should have read $6.05. Also, the soybean table refers to November soybean futures only, not cash; the corn table refers to December corn futures only, not cash.