Forecasting a new era in corn production, Cox says, "Syngenta is singularly focused on providing U.S. growers with the most effective choices in seed genetics, seed traits and crop protection products to help America's farmers capture as much value as they can from this expanding corn market."
As corn planting gets underway in the Midwest, Cox offers his viewpoints on an industry that is likely changing forever.
Q: Why are you forecasting "a new era in corn production?"
A: Today's corn market is vastly different from even just one year ago. Skyrocketing demand for ethanol offers tremendous domestic marketing opportunities for growers, as well as exciting economic opportunities for rural communities. From the field to the processor, the dynamics of corn production and marketing are changing fast, and this requires everyone along the value chain-from the seed supplier, to the grower, to the grain marketer-to think about our product differently. Corn has advanced from a low-tech commodity to a high technology, high-value, high-demand product.
Q: How will these market changes affect growers?
A: Growers are being challenged to produce more grain, more cost-effectively, to feed more markets, including domestic demand for ethanol, livestock feed and food products. Those of us who help growers produce and manage the grain supply are also being challenged to provide the best tools and technology available to meet demand and ensure that growers capture as much value as possible from burgeoning markets.
Q: What is Syngenta's role in this new era?
A: This new grain marketing environment requires adaptation from every one in the value chain - from suppliers to growers to grain marketers. At Syngenta, we are stepping up our efforts and timetables to get needed technology into the hands of our primary customers: U.S. growers.
We are working diligently to help growers use our new technology in genetics, traits and crop protection to increase the yield and quality of their crop. Specifically, we have doubled our production of seed with stacked traits through our fast-track breeding programs in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Most of this seed contains new trait combinations we did not have last year, such as Agrisure RW.
Q: What is the significance of Agrisure RW and how is it being used by growers this year?
A: Agrisure RW provides built-in control of corn rootworm, a devastating corn pest that robs millions of bushels of yield each year. Upon receiving full U.S. approvals we brought this new technology to market in time for 2007 planting. With approvals pending in major export markets, we are requiring growers to develop domestic marketing plans for any grain that contains Agrisure RW. Growers must sign agreements to deliver grain to domestic use outlets. We are also working with grain buyers, such as ethanol plants and livestock producers, to assist growers in identifying suitable destinations for routing their grain to booming domestic markets.
Q: Why are you marketing Agrisure RW prior to grain export approvals?
A: Growers have been anticipating this Syngenta rootworm trait for years. Agrisure RW is a new technology choice, now fully approved to plant in the U.S. Growers have the freedom to choose to plant this technology, but only if they can commit to marketing the grain to domestic uses that do not export grain or by-products. These include ethanol production, or livestock feed.
The spillover effect of the ethanol boom is already putting tremendous pressure on the livestock industry, with the cost of feed grain escalating. We at Syngenta believe it is important to market this yield-enhancing technology this season, not only so our customers can capitalize on the ethanol boom, but also for the livestock industry, which also benefits from high corn production.
Q: How do you respond to those who challenge Syngenta's decision to market hybrids with Agrisure RW in the U.S. prior to approval by Japan and other export customers?
A: We are motivated by our responsibility to play our part in creating value for the American farmer and supporting the resurgence of economic growth in rural America. The American corn grower needs access to the very latest science has to offer, such as Agrisure RW.
Syngenta aggressively seeks export market approvals for our products in all major export market and we respect that other countries should have the right to choose their own regulatory requirements, systems and timelines for approvals. However, their choices should not dictate the technology choices the American farmer has for producing ample grain to supply the expanding U.S. domestic market.
Gone are the days when grain marketers could dig into a huge, undifferentiated stockpile of Number 2 yellow corn to supply every market. Grain marketers and traders have the ability to source grain or Identity Preserve Grain for specific customers in a more segmented world market. . This is how growers can capture value.
Q: What are some of the emerging Syngenta technologies that will help growers capture value from the market?
A: The need for alternative fuels is a long-term reality, and agriculture will be on the front line. It's an exciting, and dynamic, new world. Technology in genetics and traits will be key to helping growers meet the feed and fuel demand. Syngenta has a rich pipeline of traits to help our customers meet this demand, including our corn amylase trait for more efficient ethanol production. Pending U.S. regulatory approvals, hybrids with this trait should be available for planting in 2008, and this will offer growers another value-added marketing option.
Also in the pipeline are traits that offer complete insect control, including broad lepidopteran species; improved nitrogen utilization in corn, which will be crucial for growers who convert their acres to more corn-after-corn production; and traits to enable corn to be more drought tolerant to deliver optimum yields in more stressed conditions.
At Syngenta, we're excited to do our part in helping the grower by responsibly providing innovative, timely technology for the new era of corn production.