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Agri-Business Briefs for November 2, 2005
Georgia-based Challenger sponsors NASCAR entry
DULUTH, Ga. — The No. 23 Challenger racecar finished 28th at the Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 race on Oct. 30. A partnership between the Duluth, Ga.-based Challenger brand (AGCO Corporation) and Bill Davis Racing represents a unique synergy between NASCAR and agriculture.

Since 2002, when AGCO acquired the highly respected line of Challenger tracked tractors from Caterpillar and formed an agreement with the CAT dealers to market and service its full line of Challenger agricultural machinery, there has been a strong relationship between Caterpillar and Challenger. This primary Challenger NASCAR sponsorship, combined with the existing associate sponsorship with Caterpillar on the No. 22 car, will expose the Challenger brand to millions of race fans. The Challenger brand joined Bill Davis Racing and Caterpillar as a sponsor for the 2005-2006 racing season.

“With our world headquarters just north of Atlanta, we’re particularly excited about seeing the No. 23 Challenger car race in front of the ‘home’ crowd at the Atlanta Motor Speedway,” said Doug Durand, Challenger Brand Marketing Manager. “A large segment of our core customer base are huge fans of stock car racing, and we’re confident that the No. 23 car will make a great showing.”

Johnny Benson, the driver of the No. 23 car, was outfitted in a specially designed Challenger fire suit.

The No. 23 car was designed to exemplify the Challenger brand, with black and yellow striped graphics, and product images, including an MT800B track tractor on the hood, and a combine and an MT600B tractor on either side of the car. The tagline, “We’re up to The Challenge” appears across the trunk and back bumper, and the Challenger logo is prominently displayed on every principal location for increased brand awareness - and the pit crew will be donning Challenger Racing Crew shirts on race day. For more on the Challenger brand, visit

Dow licenses ZFP technology in collaboration with Sangamo
RICHMOND, Calif. — Sangamo BioSciences Inc.’s ability to regulate and modify genes using its zinc finger DNA-binding protein (ZFP) technology landed the company a potential $52 million deal with Dow AgroSciences LLC, a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Co.

During an initial three-year agreement period, Sangamo will provide Dow exclusive access to its ZFP technology for use in plant agriculture and industrial products. On a nonexclusive basis, Dow can use the ZFP platform to develop products in the areas of animal health and biopharmaceuticals produced in plants.

The collaboration “marries gene regulation and gene inhibiting technology with the substantial expertise Dow has in the areas of plants and crop biotechnology,” said Edward Lamphier, president and CEO of Richmond, Calif.-based Sangamo, which has been using the ZFP technology to develop a pipeline of therapeutics.

This license allows Dow to use the technology, Lamphier said, “to regulate the gene turn-on or turn-off in plants and be able to direct or augment pathways in plants so as to increase the value of a particular product.”

In exchange, for the first three years, Dow agreed to pay Sangamo up to $27.5 million. That figure includes an up-front fee of $7.5 million, a $4 million investment in Sangamo’s next financing round, up to $6 million in research funding, $4 million in potential milestones, and then $6 million if Dow exercises its option for a commercial license.

Sangamo’s technology is based on zinc finger proteins, a class of naturally occurring transcription factors found in the nucleus of cells that are able to bind to DNA to selectively control specific genes. ZFP TFs (transcription factors) are engineered ZFPs that are designed to recognize a specific DNA sequence.

“We’re very excited about it,” said Dan Kittle, vice president of research and development for Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences. “We’re going to play an active role in translating the technology in some product areas. We’ll be looking at a number of different applications, both from a regulating-gene standpoint, and by targeting specific genes and/or doing modification.”

CHB LLC sales still climbing
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The 2005 fiscal year was a transition period for Certified Hereford Beef LLC. The program added a Choice option for its customers and committed significant resources to Hereford Verified, a closed-loop supply network that connects seedstock and cow-calf producers to the downstream performance and marketing of their cattle. In all, Certified Hereford Beef® continued its four consecutive years of double-digit growth and has now averaged 27 percent annualized growth since 1997.

Certified Hereford Beef grew stores and tonnage, adding Russ’s Markets, two private-label retail accounts and nine new foodservice distributors. CHB LLC finished the fiscal year by selling more than 45.4 million pounds of beef worldwide. It is a 20 percent increase from the 2004 sales year. But there was a sizeable setback, the loss of Big Y World Class Markets, a major East Coast customer. It was the first retailer in four years to quit the program.

“Even with the flood of Angus marketing, we are proud of our strong growth and increased product recognition,” said Doug Miller, CHB LLC vice president of sales.

With the addition of the Choice program, Certified Hereford Beef required more than 440,000 head of white-faced cattle to supply its three packing sites. The 2005 certification rate is 61 percent with more than 260,000 carcasses certified for the program. Currently, Certified Hereford Beef is available through three plants in Dodge City and Liberal, Kan. and in Omaha, Neb.

This farm news was published in the November 2, 2005 issue of Farm World.