Happy New Year! This new year, new decade and new century offer all of us new opportunities. After 22 years at Southeast Farm Press,

I have decided to take advantage of one of those opportunities myself. I've taken a position as technical information specialist for the southern region with the Monsanto Company. This is my last column as editor of Southeast Farm Press.

That fact might throw a bit of a chill into the hearts of a few of you, those who have kept me informed, often with confidential information. I've always appreciated your willingness to give me a heads-up as news was about to break, offering your insights, trusting me to hold the information until the time was right, and to protect my sources. I've often joked that my last column, when I no longer felt an obligation to preserve these confidentialities, was going to be a doozie.

If you've just had one of those chills, enjoy the adrenaline rush. Then relax. My ethics are still in force. And my sincere desire to maintain the amazing network of sources and friends we've built over the years is as strong as ever. A big part of my new job will involve gathering, packaging and disseminating timely, reliable information. I'm looking forward to continuing to work with many of you. And, I'm looking forward to the new challenges.

Before I sign off here at Farm Press, I want to thank a bunch of people: Bill McNamee, the founder of Farm Press Publications, who hired me as an associate editor and promoted me to editor of Southeast Farm Press.

All of the people at Farm Press, the most dedicated group of professionals and friends anyone could hope to be associated with. The industry, government and university specialists who have patiently explained programs, systems, chemicals and other technical information so I could help get that valuable information into the hands of our readers.

At the top of the list, I want to thank you loyal readers. I've called on thousands of you to stop your planters, sprayers or combines to subject yourselves to an editor with a notepad, a camera and lots of questions. You've always come through with your experiences and your insights. Your willingness to share what you have learned about new chemicals, equipment, conservation tillage, farm programs and other issues has allowed Southeast Farm Press to give our readers the facts they need to make the best farm business decisions. We've never attempted to print recipes for success. Instead, we've sought out the best available information on cutting edge topics and offered these facts to our readers. A primary goal of Southeast Farm Press is to provide you with the timely, reliable information that stimulates you to think and to make better informed business decisions.

I'm confident that you will see only improvements in Southeast Farm Press as Senior Associate Editor Paul Hollis takes over the editor's responsibilities. While Paul and his family will continue to live in Alabama, a new associate editor will soon be hired to work out of the Raleigh office.

I hope all of you will embrace the new editor and offer him the same cooperation you've given me for so many years. With your help and with the guidance of Editorial Director Hembree Brandon, Executive Editor Forrest Laws and Editor Paul Hollis, I'm sure the new associate will soon earn your trust.

That brings me back to where I started this column. All of you who have cooperated with me through countless interviews have had to trust me to listen carefully and get the facts right. That's the attitude I'm taking with me to Monsanto.

I'm impressed with the obvious desire of the major chemical, seed and life science companies to get accurate information into the hands of the users of their products. The companies have put some amazingly well trained specialists in the field. They are working to help farmers develop more profitable, more productive and more environmentally sound production systems.

Many of the companies are obviously working diligently to help farmers determine how to blend the technologies from multiple sources into the most productive systems. I'm looking forward to working inside one of these innovative companies.

I'm going to miss putting together regular issues of Southeast Farm Press. But, I am not going to be completely out of the loop. On Jan. 23, I'll once again host the Southeast Cotton Conference at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. I hope to see many of you there. I'm still in the agricultural information business, just from a different platform.

Stay in touch.