Ohio Farmers Union President Joe Logan said that “enough is enough” with further consolidation among the largest agricultural businesses that control more and more of the inputs farmers need to feed America and the world.
He refers to a proposed merger of Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co.
“Where are the Teddy Roosevelts and the trust busters of today?” Logan asked.
Two previous waves of mergers in the agricultural inputs sector have already created what is known at the Big Six: Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont, Dow and BASF. The current rumored or announced deals—including Dow-DuPont, ChemChina-Syngenta, and Bayer-Monsanto—would be a third wave of consolidation.
“Competition is eroding more and more with each of these mega deals. While financial markets applaud supposed efficiencies of larger businesses, customers — farmers — have fewer choices, less competition and input prices continue to go up,” Logan said.
The National Farmers Union today joined Food and Water Watch and the American Antitrust Institute in a letter to U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division urging a challenge to the Dow-DuPont merger.
The proposed merger would create a powerful duopoly between Dow-DuPont and Monsanto. Together, the two companies would control 76% of the market for corn and 66% of the market for soybeans, giving them the power to charge farmers higher prices and effectively decide which seeds farmers could plant.
“Seed costs are the highest input expense for farmers. While some of the cost can be attributed to more sophisticated technology, we have seen time and again that consolidation and market restructuring has increased the cost of crop inputs. In a lagging farm economy with multi-year trends of low commodity prices, additional cost increases for crop inputs could cripple a lot of family farms in this country,” said Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union president.
The groups conclude that the proposed Dow-DuPont merger “would be difficult, if not impossible, to remedy.” The letter notes accumulating evidence on failed remedies in other mergers, the difficulty of finding viable buyers of to-be divested assets, and the ineffectiveness of divesting assets to other members of the Big Six firms.