Monsanto is undertaking four specific initiatives in 2007 to build its commitment to U.S. cotton producers. The company also will introduce a residual herbicide, available by March 2007, and it has a summertime '07 timeline for expected completion of its $1.5 billion acquisition of Delta and Pine Land Co.
The company had asked former U.S. Rep. Larry Combest and his firm to travel the Cotton Belt conducting listening sessions to see what farmers really want. The preliminary report from the former U.S. House Agriculture Committee chairman, who crafted the popular 2002 Farm Bill, found cotton growers kept repeatedly identifying four specific areas that were of paramount importance. As a result, Monsanto will focus on 4 key areas for cotton producers in 2007:
- Risk Management.
- Technology Pricing.
- Global Availability of New Technology.
- Long-term sustainability.
Risk management will deal with offering a pilot drought relief program, especially important to cotton growers in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma where weather can be wild at planting time, and the season can be plagued by drought. Risk management also will deal with glyphosate-resistant weeds.
In that regard, Monsanto will offer cotton producers Parrlay herbicide as a branded, residual herbicide option for the 2007 growing season. Parrlay is a metolachlor herbicide that Monsanto will price at a level that minimizes the cost of applying a residual herbicide in a Roundup Ready cotton system. Price and program details, as well as the Parrlay product, itself, will be available by March 2007. Monsanto will recommend its use in conjunction with its Roundup Ready and Roundup Ready Flex weed control systems.
Monsanto Cotton Business Lead Kevin Eblen says the specific 4-point strategy will support both the near-term and long-term sustainability of the U.S. cotton industry.
The company also says it will aim to price technology in a way that shares the benefits with farmers.
As a global agriculture company that now does business in more than 100 countries, Monsanto will focus on developing seed and trait products that provide cotton growers greater value than any other alternative.
"We will not introduce any new trait technology into a country unless we are confident we can be compensated for the use of the technology when it is used," Eblen notes.
Finally, in long-term sustainability, especially with changes in farm policy, international competition, and other fundamental forces, Monsanto will provide initial funding to the Cotton Foundation for a special project. The work will look at the constraints, challenges and opportunities facing U.S. cotton production and marketing. To help the industry plan for the future, Monsanto has agreed to provide initial funding of up to $1 million to support this project.
Elben notes the Monsanto decision in 2006 to purchased Delta and Pine Land Company for $1.5 billion clearly demonstrates its commitment to cotton. The Monsanto intention to acquire D&PL was announced Aug. 14 last year, and the first 6 months in closing the deal will come on Feb. 14, 2007. Monsanto had a year to complete the acquisition, and Eblen says it should be a done deal by summer 2007.
When the D&PL acquisition is complete, Monsanto will divest itself of its Stoneville and NexGen cotton business, but officials are quick to add there should be ample supplies of Stoneville and NexGen cottonseed for growers in spring 2007.