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Last modified: March 02, 2001

[March 02, 2001] The mission of AgXML is to "identify and define industry business processes for the grain and oilseed industry, to identify and define the business messages that support industry business processes, to develop XML schemas to support the business messages, to secure commitment from participants to integrate XML-based messaging into their business processes, and to provide a forum for understanding that process."

From the AgXML Executive Overview: "AgXML is a group of companies committed to bringing the efficiencies of ecommerce to grain- and oilseed-related business processes. We are doing the following: (1) Identifying business processes that, if automated, would improve efficiencies. (2) Determining the data requirement of the business processes identified in number 1. (3) Defining XML schemas that support the data requirements determined in number 2.

Background and approach: "As the mission implies, there is a considerable amount of inefficiencies resulting in unnecessary costs in various business processes within the grain and oilseed industry. AgXML will identify and plan to improve upon in priority order the inefficiencies that can be eliminated or reduced through electronically enabling portions of various business process. Basically this is an open effort. 'Open' means that anyone is welcome to learn about what the group is trying to accomplish, the activities to date, and the plans moving forward. As a group we are striving to reach out to as many grain and oilseed 'touch points' as we can. This includes the NGFA, RAPID, agchem, transportation, etc."

Accomplishments to date [2001-03-02]:

  1. We have hammered out an XML schema for contracts. We still have to work on amendments, terms and conditions, and some of the enumerations.
  2. We have created high-level UML activity diagrams and use cases for contracts.
  3. We have created a rough-draft version of activity diagrams and use cases for barge shipments, truck shipments, and rail shipments. We have begun the process of converting that documentation to UML activity diagrams and use cases.
  4. We have a second draft outlining the organizational structure and operation of an L.L.C. We have general agreement among the participants for the formation of an L.L.C.
  5. We're ready for companies to create at least two sample XML instance documents reflecting the content of typical and complex contracts, grain certifications, weight certifications, and bill of lading.

The technology components in the AgXML effort are (e.g.) to "define the schema; each company will have the ability to create a contract that conforms to the schema; each company will have the ability to send and receive the XML contracts; each company will have the ability to process XML contracts (whether that means manual display or full integration into back-end systems)."

AgXML supporting companies include [2001-03-02]: 1stAg, Accenture, Ag Processing, AgriCore, Agris, Archer Daniels Midland, Bartlett Grain, Bridge, Bunge, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Canadian Wheat Board, Cargill, Cenex Harvest States, ConAgra, Corn Products International, Eridania Beghin-Say America, FCStone, L.L.C., Louis Dreyfus, Monsanto, The National Grain and Feed Association, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., Pradium, RAPID, Refco, Rooster, Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, Tenco, The Andersons, Inc., The Scoular Company, UGG, United Agri Products, Vantage Point.

[February 26, 2001] AgXML is an initiative of AgXML LLC, focused on defining an XML standard for the agricultural products industry. An overview of AgXML is provided by Anne Chen in eWEEK; see below.


  • AgXML Web site

  • Cargill Inc.

  • AgXML Executive Overview [cache 2001-03-02]>

  • AgXML Organizational Structure

  • AgXML - Contract Working Group. Contract UML documentation, Contract XML schema, Contract XML schema documentation, Sample contract XML instance document, Contract pricing XML schema documentation, Data Dictionary.

  • AgXML - Shipping Working Group. Contract shipping diagrams, Grade cert XML schema, Grade cert XML schema, Weight cert XML schema, Weight cert XML schema, Bill of lading XML schema, Bill of lading XML schema.

  • Sample contracts XML schema, [source]

  • Contact: Jim Wilson, Project Manager. [816-516-8847]

  • [February 26, 2001] "How to Grow XML. Competitors get together to pave way for new specification." By Anne Chen. In eWEEK (February 26, 2001). "On a chilly morning last December [2000], a group of IT and business managers from some of the largest agriculture companies -- and fiercest competitors -- in the country gathered in a basement conference room of the O'Hare Hilton in Chicago. The group, including representatives from agricultural products companies Tyson Foods Inc., Louis Dreyfus Citrus S.A., Monsanto Co., Cenex Harvest States Cooperatives and Archer Daniels Midland Co., had been meeting off and on for three months in an attempt to map out AgXML, a version of Extensible Markup Language that, many thought, could spark a business-to-business e-commerce revolution in the industry. Things, however, were going slowly. Concerned about losing control of the standard and that AgXML collaboration between competitors could be construed as anti-competitive collusion, the executives, like strangers playing poker, were waiting for someone else to make the first move. Finally, by Day 2, John Von Stein, vice president of IT for the North America Grain and Oilseed Crush business unit at Cargill Inc., asked what everyone else was already thinking: Who will actually own the standard? How will final technical decisions be made, and what will happen if two organizations disagree on important XML tags? That day, AgXML LLC, a nonprofit dedicated to determining how partners and suppliers will one day speak to one another using XML online, was born. Picking up on Von Stein's lead, participants hammered out how AgXML LLC will be organized and how it will go about defining XML for the agricultural products industry. While a final, complete AgXML standard is still years away, the group has already defined a subset of XML tags that could be used in B2B collaborations by the end of the year... Gartner Group Inc., of Stamford, Conn., estimates that so far 200 initiatives have been launched to create XML standards tailored to 55 industries. While each standard will be tailored for a single industry, the intent of each will be the same: to create a common language -- defined in XML -- that business partners and even competitors can use to easily and universally exchange information and transactions online, driving cost and time-out-of-business processes as fundamental as placing orders and confirming shipments... The approach of the AgXML group is beginning to bear fruit. After months of little progress, the group since December has identified three process areas it will concentrate on -- shipping, contracts and receivables -- and has developed proposed XML schema for specific applications such as the language to be used in sending and receiving contracts. By the end of this year, Cargill officials hope, the group will produce standard definitions that can be used to share XML documents -- not yet transactions -- between business partners. The U.S. Dairy Association and the National Grain and Feed Association have shown interest in using the AgXML standards being developed, Cargill officials said. "

  • [February 26, 2001] "Planting XML in the Enterprise." By Anne Chen. In eWEEK (February 25, 2001). "Agribusinesses helping to create the AgXML standard have learned that getting competitors pulling in the same direction can be a big and difficult task. In some respects, however, it's just the tip of a much larger iceberg. That's because companies such as Cargill Inc. plan to use standards like AgXML not just to build business-to-business lines to outside partners and suppliers but also to integrate internal systems and processes. And that will require process and system overhauls that will ripple across the enterprise... Officials at Cargill said they believe XML will be the perfect technology for linking together currently separate internal processes and systems. The company, for example, at present runs multiple grain origination transaction systems, applications used to account for the purchase and payment of grain. And John Von Stein, vice president of IT for Cargill North America Grain, said he'd like those systems to talk to one another as easily as they will eventually talk to outside entities using the same AgXML standards. That won't be happening any time soon, however. For one thing, Cargill will have to wait for the AgXML standard tags and schemata to be developed. On the road to such interoperability, Cargill has created its own internal working groups to track standards like AgXML. AgXML group members such as Cheryl Gielau, a senior data analyst, and Michael Dockham, IT architect for Cargill North America Food Ingredients, participate in a Cargill-specific XML peer group that meets on a biweekly basis. There, colleagues from all Cargill's divisions, including shipping and finance and accounting, gather to discuss how evolving industry-specific standards will affect the company in the future... While Cargill has big plans to use AgXML to integrate systems and processes within its food industry supply chain, the company would like to take it a step further. The idea is to use standard XML tags for enterprisewide integration, linking divisions that may even be in different industries. Besides agribusiness, Cargill is involved in the steel and financial industries..."

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