Monsanto and industry execs defend wave of agribusiness mega-mergers

Bayer’s pending $66 billion acquisition of Monsanto got a going-over at a Senate hearing that probed consolidation in the seed and farm chemical industries, with officials of the companies saying the deal would allow them to spend more on research and that mergers and acquisitions are necessary in a stressed farm economy.

Some senators and antitrust activists weren’t buying it, portraying the Bayer-Monsanto deal, which was announced Sept. 14, as a continuation of mega-mergers that could diminish competition and raise prices for farmers and consumers.

Two big deals affecting agriculture already are underway. Dow Chemical and DuPont, which are moving ahead with an all-stock merger valued at about $130 billion, plan to spin off their seed and crop chemical business into a separate company. And Chinese state-owned chemical giant ChemChina is proceeding with a $43 billion takeover of Swiss pesticide and seeds company Syngenta.

If all three pending deals close, three companies would account for nearly 80 percent of U.S. corn seed sales and nearly 70 percent of the global pesticide market, which could result in fewer choices for farmers, higher prices and less innovation.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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