Opponents: Bayer purchase of Monsanto will hurt farmers, consumers
A panel of opponents of Bayer’s purchase of Monsanto said Tuesday that the combination of the two companies will hurt farmers and consumers, and called on the Justice Department to stop the merger.
Bill Bullard, CEO of Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America noted that the numbers of cattle, sheep and hog producers have already declined, and said the merger will further concentrate the suppliers of the seeds that farmers buy to grow animal feed and the suppliers of animal drugs.
“This merger will increase the cost of production, it will reduce innovation, it will accelerate the loss of producers,” Bullard said.
Leah Douglas, a policy analyst for the Open Markets Institute, said she believes Bayer and Monsanto will use farmers’ data to turn their companies into a platform to sell their products.
Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, said he fears that the merger will reduce the number of seed suppliers available to farmers.
“With consolidation, you are robbing farmers of choice. With the information consolidation, you are eliminating the choice to not get on the industrial treadmill,” Pica said.
Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America, said, “The bundling of traits, seeds and chemicals, backed up with onerous contractual conditions, locks consumers in and competitors out. The seed/agrochemical giants manipulate patent thickets and extensions to maintain their control and write contracts that extend it beyond the patent expiration.”
Ben Burkett, a Mississippi farmer who is president of the National Family Farm Coalition, said, “This merger will almost certainly reduce the number of family farmers. Everything is being concentrated. As a farmer in the middle, what can I do?”
Members of the panel noted that President Donald Trump had criticized market concentration in his campaign, but that he also met with Monsanto and Bayer executives during the transition before he took office. ❖