More Beans, Less Corn: Rising energy costs could sway farmers to plant more soybeans and less corn this year.

Projections are that U.S. corn plantings could dip 3% to 77 million acres, while soybean plantings could rise to a record 76 million acres, says Bob Young, co-director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri.

Last year, farmers planted 79.6 million acres of corn and 74.5 million acres of soybeans.

The projected change is the result of increased costs for fuel, fertilizer and pesticides, which could add to the swing to soybeans, which are less expensive to grow, says Young.

Tyson Delays IBP Bid: Tyson Foods, Springdale, AR, has delayed its tender offer of $3.2 billion for rights to IBP Inc., Dakota Dunes, SD, until a government probe into IBP's accounting practices has been resolved.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is reviewing IBP's most recent financial statements.

Tyson's cash tender offer is for 50.1% of IBP's shares. Tyson won a bidding war Jan. 1 with Smithfield Foods for IBP.

Environmental Awards: The 2001 Environmental Stewards Program recognizes some of the best producers for their positive contributions to the environment.

All types and sizes of pork operations qualify for the environmental recognition program. It is co-sponsored by the National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and National Hog Farmer.

Four producers are honored each year. Applications and nominations for the Environmental Stewards Program must be completed by March 15. A producer can apply based on his or her experiences as an owner and/or manager. Extension agents or veterinarians can nominate a producer from their local community.

The application can be found at www.nppc.org/PROD/EnvironmentalSection/envstewards.html. Contact NPPC at (515) 223-2600 for an application.

Winners receive a plaque, a trip for two to Washington, D.C., and $1,000. A special section of National Hog Farmer will feature each winner's farm.

Bacon Is Back: McDonald's is adding bacon to a number of new breakfast entrees as part of the launch of its New Tastes Menu.

The menu offers more than 40 new tastes. Local markets will select up to four to be featured and then rotated throughout the year. The new offerings include several chicken and bacon sandwiches, a sausage breakfast burrito and a bacon, egg and cheese bagel.

The Jan. 17 announcement by McDonald's resulted in a spike in pork belly futures prices, says Steve Meyer, NPPC director of economics. If the new menu items prove popular, belly prices could improve further, reflected in higher live hog prices, he notes.

Pork Burger Debuts: In Germany, McDonald's is marketing an all-pork burger, the "McFarmer burger," as that country's officials weigh what to do about the mad cow scare spreading across Europe.

Beef demand has dipped since the first of eight cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) were discovered in Germany in November 2000.

Mandatory Price Reporting Delayed: The effective date of the livestock mandatory price reporting program has been moved to April 2.

Pork packers that slaughter more than 100,000 hogs/year will report contract and slaughter information to the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which will publish the information in three daily reports and one weekly report.

The delay will allow more time to test the program's new electronic information collection system.

NSIF Awards Presented: Members of the National Swine Improvement Federation (NSIF) recognized Rodney Goodwin during their 25th anniversary conference with the Charles Stanislaw Memorial Service Award. Goodwin is director of research with NPPC and coordinates their genetic research programs. Rebecca Emnet, Ohio State University, received the Lauren Christian Memorial Graduate Student Award.

Steve Moeller, Ohio State University, was re-elected NSIF president. Peter Simedrea, London, Ontario, Canada, was elected vice president, and Ken Stalder was re-appointed secretary-treasurer.

Group Changes Name: The American Association of Swine Practitioners (AASP) has changed its name to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV).

The name change reflects a variety of positions filled by swine veterinarians in industry, in addition to traditional veterinary practice, explains Executive Director Tom Burkkgren, DVM.

For more information, contact the AASV at (515) 465-5255 or visit www.aasv.org.