NFU asks Senate Judiciary Panel for more oversight of failing antitrust enforcement in agriculture
September 29, 2016
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson joined a panel of industry leaders Sept. 20 to testify before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about the alarming trend of consolidation in agriculture.
Less than a week after 275 NFU members were on Capitol Hill requesting review of the staggering volume of mergers and acquisitions in the seed and agrochemical industry, the Committee convened a hearing to review consolidation and competition in this sector.
"NFU has been concerned about the long-term trends of consolidation in the agricultural inputs sector; specifically, the wave of merger and acquisition announcements involving five of the 'Big Six' seed and agrochemical companies," Johnson told members of the committee. "These mergers will surely result in less competition, less innovation and higher prices, jeopardizing family farmers' and ranchers' ability to provide for our nation at a time when the farm sector is already hurting."
Since February of this year, industry megadeals have been announced between Syngenta AG and China National Chemical Corporation, Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co., and Bayer AG and Monsanto Co. According to market data, these deals would result in a combined three companies controlling more than 80 percent market share of the U.S. corn seed sales and 70 percent of the global pesticide market.
"The hands-off approach we've seen in antitrust enforcement has led to the highly consolidated economic conditions prevalent today and the resulting vulnerability of American farmers. We must do more to prevent consolidation that results in a few firms controlling substantial percentage of market share," Johnson said.
Johnson explained that the mergers occurring in the seed and agrochemical sector are only part of the story of mass consolidation happening across the industry. Unfortunately, the continued trend of consolidation is adding to rural job loss, increasing costs for producers, and reducing competition among only a few companies in each sector.
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"The nation's antitrust enforcement has clearly failed farmers, ranchers, rural communities, and consumers. We will continue to work with this Committee, all of Congress, and the Administration to encourage greater oversight of this concerning issue," Johnson concluded.