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Grassley Unhappy, But Resigned to Big Ag Mergers

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo
Syngenta, a Swiss-owned agribusiness, will likely soon be owned by ChemChina.

Consolidation of agriculture companies continues, as several deals move toward completion this summer.

The state-owned ChemChina purchase of Syngenta is likely to be the first to close, perhaps as soon as next month. Iowa’s homegrown agribusiness Pioneer, already a subsidiary of DuPont, will be swallowed up by chemical giant Dow. And Bayer, the German maker of aspirin and ag chemicals, is poised to buy Monsanto.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) pushed for careful oversight of these deals. He says it’s clear now they’re all likely to move forward.

“I’m not going to be very happy with the mergers,” Grassley says, “but the process started under Democrats, will be finished under Republicans, it’s generally very factual, it’s generally nonpolitical. And so, I might disagree with it but I have to accept it.”

Grassley says consolidation reduces competition and increases prices.

“Farmers are particularly hurt from standpoints of mergers,” says Grassley, who is one of the few farmers in Congress, “because we’re both consumers of inputs, and we’re marketers of our production.”

Grassley says that will drive up the cost of doing business for Iowa farmers, who already are entering their fourth consecutive season of lower prices for major commodities like corn and soybeans.

If all the deals go through, just a handful of giant companies will control half of the global seed market. 

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames