WHAT IMPACT is e-commerce having on U.S. agriculture? How are manufacturing companies providing stewardship of products sold on the Internet? How are regulatory agencies enforcing labeling laws?

Those are some of the questions that will be discussed during the Mississippi Agricultural Pest Management Associations' Conference 2001 at the Washington County Convention Center in Greenville, Feb. 20-21.

The "e-Pest Management" discussion will take place during the joint session of the Mississippi Weed Science Society (MWSS), Mississippi Association of Plant Pathology and Nematology (MAPPAN) and Mississippi Entomological Association (MEA) at 1 p.m. on Feb. 21.

"The idea for this session came from a situation that I encountered in Texas," said Michael M. Kenty, a nutritional product specialist for Helena Chemical Co. and vice president of MWSS. "A farmer bought a shipment of Bicep II over the Internet, but the product was so old, it still had the Ciba-Ceigy label on it."

The local dealer and Novartis representatives worked with the grower to get the product replaced, he said, "but it made me start wondering what the situation would be if the local representative had not stepped up to help."

Speakers for the session will be: - Allan S. Las, vice president of marketing for FarmSaver.com in Seattle, Wash., on "How the Internet Changes the Nature of Generic Competition in Agriculture."

- Donnie Taylor, director of sales and supply chain, Valent USA Corp., Walnut Creek, Calif., on "The Internet: A Basic Manufacturer's Perspective."

- Harry Fulton, director of pesticide programs, Mississippi Bureau of Plant Industry, Starkville, "Regulatory Aspects of e-Commerce in Agriculture."

- Shawn Roberts, marketing manager, interactive technology, Helena Chemical Co., Memphis, Tenn., "The Retailer Distributor's Perspective of the Internet. Kenty will moderate a panel discussion on e-commerce in agriculture following the presentations.

"The late Robert McCarty of the Bureau of Plant Industry was instrumental in putting this panel together and would have spoken on the regulatory aspects," said Kenty. "He will be missed at this meeting."

Conference 2001 kicks off with the MAPPAN presentations at the Washington County Convention Center at 1 p.m. on Feb. 20. The MEA presentations will begin at 8 a.m. on Feb. 21. The joint session begins at 1 p.m. on Feb. 21, and the MWSS program concludes the conference with a session beginning at 8 a.m., Feb. 22.

CCA and Applicator Certification credits will be available. Pesticide applicators and consultants may renew their licenses by attending the sessions for the disciplines in which they are licensed.

THERE'S A LOT of room for improvement for soybean yield in Mississippi. But Alan Blaine is closing the gap. For these efforts, the Mississippi State University soybean specialist is the recipient of this year's Southern Soybean Success Award, given by Uniroyal Chemical. The presentation of the award was made during the Southern Soybean Conference in Tunica, Miss.

In 1992, Blaine helped develop a program to help soybean producers reap greater yields from their soybean crops. The SMART program (Soybean Management by Application of Research and Technology) helps growers make cost-effective and profitable decisions about their crops.

Growers enrolled in the two-year program are educated on newer, earlier-maturing varieties, earlier planting dates, improved irrigation scheduling, proper seed treatments, full-fledged in-field insect and disease scouting, weed control and crop rotation.

During that time, a team of SMART researchers helps the grower completely overhaul his existing soybean program and establish an intense agronomic regimen to meet his individual soil and production needs.

"Soybeans are the one crop in the state for which we can improve yield. We have the data research and numbers to back us up," Blaine said. "Growers can make money raising soybeans if they take the time to learn the management and scouting techniques the SMART program promotes."

Non-irrigated fields in the SMART program averaged 36 bushels per acre - 22 percent greater than the state average. Irrigated SMART fields averaged 49 bushels per acre, 42 percent higher than the state average.

"Alan is the model of what a good Extension specialist should be," said Clarence Watson, interim department head of plant and soil sciences at MSU. "Soybean growers throughout our state respect Alan and look to him and his team for advice on what works and what doesn't work in soybean production."