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At this point of the year, it is the usual custom that I address the hopes and aspirations of 2010, with a requisite glance back at 2009. Certainly with an issue that focuses on soybeans, I should not be commenting on corn. Yet circumstances dictate that I dedicate this space to events of two years past and perspectives from different parts of the world, all as a prelude to what may happen in 2010.


December 16, 2009
By Ralph Pearce


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At this point of the year, it is the usual custom that I address the hopes and aspirations of 2010, with a requisite glance back at 2009. Certainly with an issue that focuses on soybeans, I should not be commenting on corn. Yet circumstances dictate that I dedicate this space to events of two years past and perspectives from different parts of the world, all as a prelude to what may happen in 2010.

Are you with me so far?

Two years ago, as the calendar turned from 2007 to 2008, the world was careening towards a food price scare that had newspaper editors and television news anchors breathing heavily. There were food riots in Mexico, armed guards on docks in Indonesia and the Philippines and a biofuels industry that was taking it all on the chin.

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Finally, agriculture will be reined in for the sake of feeding the world! Sustainability, organic food production and fair trade coffee will free everyone from the shackles of corporate agriculture.
Pardon me while I giggle.

Two years later, we still have columnists opining on the travesty of taking “large quantities of maize out of food markets and (putting) it into petrol tanks” (The Economist), a position we know is untrue. Much of the corn used on a continental basis has not been spirited away by the ethanol trade. In fact, a quick look at USDA corn utilization projections to 2018, and the amount to food, seed and industrial use (FSI) remains largely unchanged. And although ethanol production is poised to double in that time frame, much of it will not come at the expense of livestock usage or FSI, but as a result, we are told, of gains in yield due to biotech advances.

Here again, is a positive story turned negative, simply for a lack of understanding on the part of those not familiar with the realities of farming. It continues to be a source of frustration, because the factual and relevant information is all there, waiting to be ingested and digested, by a world that is increasingly hungry for such detail.

How does that relate to 2010?
As a new year lies before us, this little history lesson actually brings a wealth of promise. We can turn that negative back into a positive by always providing relevant information. I know I have said this before, but I will say it again because it bears repeating. I can be very pessimistic in my views about information exchange, and in the past I have been, always seeing an insurmountable pile of garbage that is passed off as relevant news and discourse. How often have I cursed the darkness instead of lighting a candle?

Well, that is my New Year’s resolution for 2010: to be positive, to light that candle against the darkness, and hopefully, with a little help, use that candle to light a bonfire. 

Shifting gears
With the onset of winter, Top Crop Manager provides a glimpse of warmer weather with its latest installment of our Machinery Manager features, looking at high-clearance sprayers. Western field editor Bruce Barker has done his usual excellent job, collecting data tables and write-ups on nine manufacturers, with the full specs available on our website at  www.topcropmanager.com.

 Ralph Pearce
Editor
Top Crop Manager