The 2000 U.S. corn and soybean crops were whoppers, but both were slightly smaller than USDA had projected earlier.

In its Jan. 11 Crop Production report, the agency put 2000 soybean production at a record-high 2.77 billion bu, down slightly from its Nov. 1 forecast, but 4% bigger than the 1999 crop. The previous record soybean crop was 1998's 2.74 billion bu.

Last year's average soybean yield is estimated at 38.1 bu/acre, 0.1 bu below the November forecast but 1.5 bu above the 1999 yield.

USDA officials say the 2000 corn crop totaled 9.97 billion bu, up 6% from the 1999 figure and the second largest on record behind 1994's 10.1 billion bu.

The estimate is down 1% from the Nov. 1 forecast due to lower-than- expected yields in the heart of the Corn Belt and increased field abandonments in the central Plains and Southeast.

The average corn yield - 137.1 bu/acre - is up 3.3 bu from the 1999 yield and is the second highest on record.

Cotton Forecast Drops. In its Jan. 10 Crop Production report, USDA forecast 2000 cotton production at 17.2 million bales. That's 1% more than was harvested in 1999, but 1% less than the agency forecast in December.

Yield is expected to average 631 lbs/acre.

The most significant production change is a decrease of 150,000 bales of upland cotton in Texas. Many fields there were abandoned due to drought, and fall harvest conditions were poor, according to USDA.

Extend Your CRP Contract? Farmers with CRP contracts that will expire on Sept. 30 can extend them for another year.

That news comes from Keith Kelly, USDA's Farm Service Agency administrator.

"CRP provides significant and long-lasting environmental benefits for our nation," says Kelly. "A one-year contract extension will go even further to safeguard precious rural land."

The contract extension option applies to CRP participants with contracts of original duration of less than 15 years. Under the Food Security Act of 1985, a CRP contract may not exceed 15 years.

EU Bans Animal Protein. The European Union has placed a temporary ban on the use of meat and bone meal in animal feed. The ban, a response to mad cow disease, took effect Jan. 1 and will last for six months.

It's expected to have a positive impact on U.S. soybean meal exports.

Nitrogen Situation Worsens. Sky-rocketing natural gas prices are causing concerns about the price and availability of nitrogen fertilizer this spring. Some nitrogen manufacturers reportedly have cut production but hope to buy lower-priced natural gas after the peak heating season.

If they lose the price gamble, there could be a spring squeeze on nitrogen supplies, according to Doane's.

Dow, Cheminova Form Joint Venture. Dow AgroSciences and the Denmark-based Cheminova A/S have agreed to form a joint venture to register a premium pyrethroid insecticide.

The insecticide, to be developed by Pytech Chemicals, a Swiss company, will target chewing and sucking insects in row crops. It's expected to have superior efficacy at lower application rates than any pyrethroid now available.

Products developed by Pytech are expected to be introduced in the U.S. in 2003.

Iowa Farmland Value Jumps. Prices for Iowa farmland increased an average 4.3% between October 1999 and October 2000. That's according to an annual survey by Iowa State University Extension.

The survey revealed that values increased in all of the state's 99 counties. The average gain was $76/acre, bringing the average value to $1,857/acre.

Soybeans For Foreign Kids. Before leaving office, President Clinton named 38 developing countries that will receive 600,000 metric tons of U.S. commodities through the Global Food for Education Initiative.

The commodities include soybeans and soy products.

They'll be used by private organizations and the World Food Program in school and preschool nutrition projects in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Glickman Designates Conservation Areas. Outgoing Ag Secretary Dan Glickman designated 33 areas in 25 states as part of USDA's Resource Conservation and Development Program.

"This announcement will help people in rural areas increase conservation of natural resources, promote economic development and solve local problems," Glickman says.

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide each area with a local coordinator to help access USDA programs and services.

Canada Will Promote Soyfoods. The Ontario Soybean Growers is helping to form Soyfoods Canada. The mission statement for the new organization says it will encourage growth in the country's soyfoods industry by promoting soyfoods to consumers.

ASA Adds Internet Site. The American Soybean Association's new Internet site (SoyGrowers.com) becomes available Feb. 5.

"This is not a Web site - it will be a functioning association online," says ASA marketing and membership manager T. Jan Wiseman.

"In addition to things like market, weather and events information, it has many interactive aspects, such as polling questions and discussion boards," Wiseman says.

Content will continue to be added over the next several months, says the ASA official.

Caribbean Countries Get Soymilk. Roberts Manufacturing Company (RMC), based in Barbados, has become the first fluid soymilk producer in the Caribbean. Its product, in four flavors, is being exported to nearly a dozen other countries in that region.

"Sales have been brisk, and market acceptance rapid," says Kent Nelson, ASA Caribbean Region director. "Already, RMC is preparing to roll out soy cheese and soy yogurt."