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Archive for May, 2013

Sweet Grapes

The Fussell family and sweet wine fans have turned Duplin Winery into the biggest muscadine operation in America. A fleet of Massey Ferguson utility tractors help them get the job done.

David Fussell on one of the family's MF2615s.

David Fussell on one of the family’s MF2615s.

If muscadine grapes could talk, they might sound a little bit like the Fussell brothers of Rose Hill, N.C.

For instance, the native Southern grapes would definitely have an accent. Like the Fussells, they would be honest about hard times. And they might be a little bit defensive. See, the muscadine is the Rodney Dangerfield of grapes. It gets no respect.

Taken on its own merits, it’s hard to imagine why the mighty muscadine—also known as the scuppernong—needs a defense. It’s a tough grape. The fruit itself is twice as big as that of the European varieties more common in wine culture (pinot, cabernet, chardonnay, etc.), and though all grapes contain high levels of resveratrol, the anti-oxidant, in their skins, some studies have shown muscadines to contain 6 to 10 times more than other varieties.

Still, some folks look down their upturned noses at sweet wines. “The industry in California has done a good job of promoting dry wine as the sophisticated thing to drink,” says Jonathan Fussell, who with his older brother David took over the family business, Duplin Winery (www.duplinwinery.com), from their father, David Sr., several years ago. “We sort of use that lack of respect as motivation for what we do,” David says.

Which is sell a lot of wine.

Retailers across the country, including WalMart, Food Lion, and Bi-Lo, sold more than 330,000 cases of Duplin’s sweet vino in 2011. The Fussells also welcome about 100,000 visitors a year to the winery for tours and tastings.

It’s a labor intensive operation that requires expertise on the part of growers and reliability and versatility on the part of equipment. Massey Ferguson fits the bill, says Carlos Munguia, the winery’s vineyard manager, who uses several MF2615s in the operation.

Carlos Munguia between the rows.

Carlos Munguia between the rows.

“We have some Kubotas, and the thing you notice is the MF2615 has a much tighter turning radius,” says Munguia, which is crucial when maneuvering around delicate vines. Getting as close to the vines with the tractor as possible is important both for spraying, to avoid drift, and for mowing, to keep rows tidy for visitors. Munguia says the quick availability of parts, even for the older MF1220, reduces any downtime drastically.

The formula for success at Duplin Winery, the largest muscadine winery in America, is comparable to the formula for Massey Ferguson’s heritage of quality, says David Fussell. “We make great wines and people expect a certain quality from them, and I think that’s the same as anyone who’s out there buying a tractor. We’ve learned to put trust in Massey Ferguson to provide us with a quality tractor.”

Read the full story here.

 

Supporting Young Farmers

Over 5,000 people gathered for the UK’s National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (NFYFC) Annual Convention – the Federation’s showcase event of the year.

At the NFYFC Convention (left to right): James Williams, former NFYFC Chairman, Claire Worden, NFYFC Vice Chairman, Milly Wastie, NFYFC Chairman, Russell Carrington, ARAC Vice-Chairman, Chris Bateman ARAC Chairman, Campbell Scott, Chris Manley, NFYFC CEJA representative and Paul Lay, AGCO Manager Marketing Creative Services and Public Relations.

At the NFYFC Convention (left to right):
James Williams, former NFYFC Chairman, Claire Worden, NFYFC Vice Chairman, Milly Wastie, NFYFC Chairman, Russell Carrington, ARAC Vice-Chairman, Chris Bateman ARAC Chairman, Campbell Scott, Chris Manley, NFYFC CEJA representative and Paul Lay, AGCO Manager Marketing Creative Services and Public Relations.

Massey Ferguson was a key supporter providing sponsorship for both the Chairman’s Reception and the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC) Forum.

Attendance at the event, held in Blackpool, was the best in five years and up 500 on 2012.

The ARAC Forum was a major highlight and gave members the opportunity to contribute to an industry review on the future of farming. Among the panellists were Joris Baecke, President of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) and David Fursdon, Chair of the Future Farming Review.

“We were delighted to support the NFYFC convention,” says Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Brand Development Manager who attended the event. “Massey Ferguson is strongly focused on the new generation of farmers who are embracing new opportunities, new ideas and transforming forever the way farming is both carried out and perceived.  The vibrancy, passion and clear thinking of delegates were inspirational.”

Open to young people age 10 to 26, the NFYFC has over 25,000 members and 644 clubs throughout the UK.

Purchase or Lease

What you don’t know could help you. Case in point: the option to lease farm equipment.

There is more than one way to get behind the wheel of this machine. Which option is best for you?

There is more than one way to get behind the wheel of this machine. Which option is best for you?

Not that there’s anything wrong with making a purchase, but a relatively small number of producers and custom operators are familiar with the benefits of a lease.

According to Clancey McCray, AGCO senior marketing specialist for high-horsepower tractors, programs and promotions, only about 10% of Massey Ferguson customers utilize the lease option. However, a lease may be a better fit for producers who want to preserve their capital resources, including credit, for other investments or prefer to trade in their equipment frequently.

“People who lease are generally those who want to have more capital available,” McCray says. “A lease allows you to use a piece of equipment without owning it. In essence, you’re only paying for the cost of use,” she adds, noting that leases are especially appealing to custom operators. “Of course, you don’t have any equity at the end of the lease period.”

That’s not to say a producer can’t have the best of both worlds—leasing a machine to try it out or acquire it when times are a little tight and then purchasing it later. “Most leases we offer are for a term of three years, but the customer always has the first option to buy,” McCray explains.

Leasing versus buying isn’t a decision you need to make by yourself, though. Consider the list of benefits below, then consult your tax adviser, talk to your Massey Ferguson dealer, and compare the offers from AGCO Finance. A little knowledge could go a long way to making you even more successful.

Consider a purchase if:

  • You want the security of owning a physical asset like a combine or tractor, knowing that your payments result in direct ownership of collateral.
  • You plan on keeping the machine for a few years (usually at least five).
  • You keep your equipment well maintained, which helps retain its value and helps with resale or trade-in.
  • The hours of use typically exceed the restrictions on a lease.
  • You can benefit from tax credits that help offset the additional expenses of purchasing the tractor.

Consider a lease if:

  • You want to preserve capital for other expenses or investments in your business.
  • You have limited funds for a down payment or the higher payments a purchase would require.
  • You like to trade often to benefit from the technology and efficiency available in new equipment.
  • You plan to expand or reduce the size of your operation and need the flexibility to match equipment needs to farm size.
  • You’re nearing retirement and don’t want to be locked into a large capital investment.
  • You prefer to keep newer equipment in the fleet to reduce downtime.

Whether you purchase or lease, learn more about innovative Massey Ferguson equipment at myFarmLife.com.

 

 

AGCO Backs Youth Investment Summit in Africa

AGCO is proud to support the OIC International Youth Investment Summit: The Road to Economic Growth, held in Accra, Ghana last week.

At the event Louisa Parker, Manager Institutional Funding and Stakeholder Relations, Africa & Middle East, presented details of exclusive research that shows how young people are transforming agriculture across the world.

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Commissioned by Massey Ferguson – AGCO’s global brand – the report highlights how a New Generation of young people is choosing farming as a career, because it offers a bright future. Young people’s enthusiasm, energy and optimism, says the report, is combined with a growing demand for food across the world. This open-minded New Generation is ready to embrace the opportunities that come their way.

The research also shows that across the world younger farmers are taking over family farms and revolutionising the way they are operated. Countries such as Brazil and China and those in Africa are at the forefront of this change.

AGCO, through Massey Ferguson, already has unparalleled expertise and local knowledge of African agriculture, which it has amassed over many generations. It is now strengthening its commitment to the continent with investments, totally $100 million, in number of initiatives, which are aimed at creating employment, helping to develop infrastructure and improve mechanisation, as well as providing wider access to education and training.

In Lusaka, Zambia AGCO has created a new 150ha (330 acre) Model Farm and Learning Centre, where it is putting its development commitment and ideas into action. This centre offers education and training to African farmers, at all levels, to provide a better understanding about soils, agronomy, crop protection and mechanisation techniques to boost sustainable productivity.

AGCO’s eventual aim is to transfer the knowledge and infrastructure being developed at the Zambian Model farm and Learning Centre across Africa. Exporting the core knowledge and expertise from Zambia will help establish the ‘Future Farm’ concept to provide further education and agricultural development across the continent. At the same time the project aims to ‘pull in’ other partners with AGCO to help develop the much-needed infrastructure and supply industry. Appropriate farm mechanisation is seen as the key to unlocking Africa’s agricultural potential. Investment in farm machinery technology accompanied, importantly, by education will provide the catalyst for rural development. Farm machinery boosts efficiency and helps increase yields, while also relieving workers from the drudgery of manual labour currently employed in many areas to cultivate the land and tend crops.

This is highlighted in the song ‘Youth In Agriculture’, written and performed by the MEGA Fame Foundation, an NGO from Ghana. The catchy tune and memorable lyrics aim to convey the message that a country’s health and development largely depend on farming; and by taking an active role in agriculture young Africans can help in the fight against hunger. The music video to promote the song and message was filmed using the support and resources of Massey Ferguson’s Audio Visual team at the Model Farm and Learning Centre in Zambia. The lively video shows the band performing with help from young farm staff and village children. The video, which was screened at the Summit, can be viewed here.

Elsewhere across the continent, AGCO initiatives are creating a wide range of new jobs with on-the-job training, as well as improving the infrastructure and support for farmers. Local assembly of Massey Ferguson tractors for the African market has now started with a joint venture operation in Algeria. This has already created a wide range of jobs at all levels – from highly trained engineers through to trainees. It is also boosting the local economy and offering further employment opportunities through the value chain.

Meanwhile AGCO continues to invest in developing its own business and facilities in the region and has recently built and opened a new Parts Distribution Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa as well as a new regional office in Cape Town. It is also working on a variety of projects to improve its distribution network in North, West and East Africa.

25,000th Large Square Baler Celebrated in Hesston, Kansas

In 1978, Hesston Corporation introduced the Model 4800, the industry’s first large square baler, revolutionizing hay production and feeding practices at a time when labor availability and fuel prices were driving a need for innovations on the farm. Big square balers have come a long way since then, and on May 16, 2013, a large crowd gathered at AGCO’s Hesston Operations to celebrate the 25,000th large square baler built in Hesston, Kan.

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Credit for the big baler idea is generally given to Allen White, who spent more than 25 years as a company engineer. White started his research by building a giant bale chamber in the engineering lab and manually packing it with hay. When the 4-foot-by-4-foot bale did not get hot or spoil, engineers went on to build the first prototype baler. They quickly realized that the side-feed approach currently being used would not work, and in 1975, the first prototype that fed hay into the bottom of the bale chamber was built.
After extensive field-testing, the Model 4800 was perfected and released in 1978. Field testing and working with farmers to meet their needs have always been a hallmark of equipment development at Hesston. These productive balers proved to be a more labor-efficient and economical way to harvest, store and feed forages.

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Today, balers built in Hesston are sold in as many as 39 countries and used to bale everything from alfalfa and grass hay to wheat straw, miscanthus for biofuel production, and even recyclables such as newspaper and aluminum cans.
“It is amazing to look back at all that has gone into today’s big baler models,” says Dean Morrell, product marketing manager, Hay and Forage. “Building the 25,000th baler is an invigorating milestone and a great tribute to everyone who has been involved in its development. I know there will be even more innovations in the future large square balers built in Hesston.”

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