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Senator Says Ag Mergers Need Collaborative Federal Review

John Pemble/IPR file photo
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wants federal agencies to collaborate on their reviews of proposed mergers in the agricultural sector.

Iowa's senior US senator says the proposed mergers of major agricultural seed and chemical companies should get coordinated review from multiple federal agencies.

Chuck Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and often presses government agencies to make sure proposed mergers will not stymie competition. Right now, he says the Department of Justice is looking at the proposed Dow-DuPont merger. The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing ChemChina's bid to take over Syngenta.

"If the two agencies look at the transactions in a vacuum," Grassley says, "the industry impact may seem more minor than it actually could be."

Grassley says the proposals aren't just standard business transactions. 

"There is a little difference with agriculture," he says, "from the standpoint of farmers being both consumers of inputs as well as marketers of output. And I don't know whether there's a real understanding in these government agencies of agriculture being somewhat different."

In a letter sent to the two agencies, the senator recommends they collaborate, and possibly also tap the Department of Agriculture, to fully evaluate the mergers' impact because they would reduce the number of global players in the seed and chemical industry and that could hurt farmers, who already are facing dropping incomes.

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames