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Big Agriculture Mergers Raising Antitrust Alarms

At risk with industry consolidation like a proposed merger of Bayer and Monsanto, is the environmental impact of the business, along with the financial impact on farmers.
September 22, 2016, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Carl Wycoff

"One of the biggest stories in agriculture right now is the jaw-dropping consolidation among companies that sell the world’s seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers," reports Brad Plumer.

Currently, there are six companies that dominate the biotech seed and agrochemical industries: Bayer, Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Syngenta, and BASF. But in recent months, DuPont has proposed merging with Dow, Bayer has struck a deal to buy up Monsanto, and Chinese giant ChemChina is buying Syngenta. If these mergers all go through, the three biggest agribusinesses would sell 59 percent of the world’s patented seeds and 64 percent of all pesticides.

Why does this news from the agriculture business matter to issues of planning and land use? According to Plumer, the lack of competition resulting from all of this consolidation could stifle innovation and raises costs on farmers, "who have already been battered by falling incomes in recent years."

The federal government is sufficiently concerned about the consolidation trend in the agricultural business to schedule a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week. Plumer devotes most of the article to detailing the case made during the hearing on either side of the issue. Plumer concludes by noting that the Senate is asking regulators from the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to devote extra scrutiny to mergers in the agriculture and seed industry.

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Published on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 in Vox
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