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Wichita Eagle, March 27, 2007. Written by Phyllis Jacobs Griekspoor

Boom times are ahead for agriculture, a Monsanto executive told the Agribusiness Council of Sedgwick County on Wednesday. That spells opportunity for existing and new businesses, and investors, said Carl Casale, executive vice president of Monsanto.

"The added value of agricultural products is having a tremendous stabilizing impact on rural America" Casale said. "That stability means increased land values and opportunity for operational investment".

"Every businessman should be thinking about these opportunities and what they might mean to his business".

Areas of investment that Casale identified include:

  • Different storage and logistics systems to handle a wide range of specialized crop products
  • Specialized processing facilities and the machinery they need to operate
  • Companies that specialize in validation of processing systems
  • Businesses to handle the blending of specialty oils to create blends with desired traits
  • Automated farm and farm management equipment
  • Seed development and storage

"I live in St. Louis, and I farm in Oregon", Casale said. "I monitor everything from the weather to the conditions of soils and growing crops in the fields online. The need for this kind of service is going to grow. Who will deliver it? Who will provide the monitoring hardware and software?

"The opportunities lie in figuring out the needs of a growing rural economy and how to deliver products to meet those needs" Monsanto has gone from a company once focused on chemicals with a sideline in genetic seed to one focused on seed with chemicals as a sideline, he said.

He said he doesn't expect the ethanol boom to end anytime soon and promised that new varieties of grains and oils and new processes for getting the most value from those products are coming.

A new generation of drought resistant corn, developed at Monsanto's Valley Center research and development center, will be ready for release for planting this spring, he said.

Reach P.J. Griekspoor at 316-268-6660 or at pgriekspoor@wichitaeagle.com.