WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Senate Plans Hearing on Big Ag Mergers

Aug 24, 2016

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee plans to examine proposed mergers among agricultural chemical and seed companies in a September hearing.

With Chinese chemical giant ChemChina in talks to buy Syngenta, merger discussions ongoing between Dow and DuPont, and Bayer and Monsanto apparently inching toward a deal, regulators and lawmakers are worrying about decreased competition and higher prices for farmers.

Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow are among the biggest global players in agricultural seeds and chemicals.

“The hearing will focus on the transactions currently being reviewed by antitrust regulators and the current trend in consolidation of the seed and chemical industries,” says Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who chairs the Judiciary Committee. He’s planning to invite people from the involved companies and others who would be impacted to testify, but says details have not yet been finalized.

Grassley says the Senate hearing will add oversight to reviews the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are already conducting. Grassley previously urged those two agencies to collaborate and to involve the Agriculture Department as appropriate.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. cleared ChemChina’s bid for Syngenta of national security concerns earlier this week.

During the August Congressional recess, Grassley has traveled throughout Iowa and says some constituents raised the issue of mergers and consolidation.

“Not a massive voice against it, just concern about it, as opposed to people having their mind made up,” he says. “But there is a great deal of concern.”