Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Mexico's Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources to create permanent bilateral working groups for cooperation in biotechnology, water resources, forest resources, sustainable rural development and environmental services.

“The MOU solidifies our commitment to work together in specific areas that both Mexico and the U.S. share as environmental priorities,” says Veneman.”

Currently, USDA shares approximately 30 collaborative research projects with Mexico in areas such as biotechnology and biosafety, fire management and forest fire protection, and greenhouse gas reduction through soil carbon enhancement. The MOU provides a mechanism to expand research projects.

For more information, contact the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service's International Cooperation and Development office at 202-690-0776 or at www.fas.usda.gov/icd/exchange.

New Tool Assesses Ethanol Plant Impact

A Web-based tool to help farmers assess potential price impacts of a new ethanol production plant has been developed by two Montana State University professors, with funding support from Farm Foundation.

The Ethanol Plant Analyzer allows farmers to run “what-if” scenarios on how the size and location of an ethanol plant might impact local corn prices. Developed by economists Kevin McNew and Duane Griffith, the analyzer can be found at: www.extensionecon.montana.edu/eplantanalyzer.

The analyzer builds on research McNew has done based on data from 316 grain markets around 12 ethanol plants that opened in 2001 and 2002. Here are some of the findings:

  • Ethanol plants increase local corn prices. The price increase averaged 12¢/bu., and ranged from 5¢/bu. to 19¢/bu.

  • Price impact is highest at the plant site. On average, some price impact was felt 30-100 miles from the 12 plant sites.

  • Size and co-op structure matter. Plans are under way to expand the analyzer to include transportation issues and further details on locating a new plant.

Monsanto's Roundup Ready Corn 2 Approved

Monsanto has just received EPA label approval of Roundup WeatherMax herbicide for higher rates and an expanded spray window. According to Monsanto, farmers can now spray Roundup WeatherMax beyond 30-in. corn up to 48 in., and have the flexibility to use higher rates if necessary.