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Bloomberg reports that at “least seven U.S. state attorneys general are investigating whether Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed producer, has abused its market power to lock out competitors and raise prices.” The seven states are Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and two other states that Bloomberg’s Alison Fitzgerald could not yet identify. The AGs in the seven states have created a working group to coordinate the inquiry. The five named states account for 39% of the corn and soybeans 9above) produced last year.
Bloomberg’s story comes two days before the U.S. Justice Department will hold a “workshop” in Ankeny, Iowa, on concentration in the ag business sector. The primary target of all this activity is likely to be Monsanto, the seed producer. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetically engineered seed line was in 93 percent of the soybeans and 82 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. last year, according to Fitzgerald.
“Monsanto has become such a dominant player in the seed business that producers have real concerns that the price they pay for seed is going to be anywhere near reasonable,” said John Crabtree, a spokesman for the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Nebraska, a nonprofit group that provides services to farm communities. “The fear is that the sky’s the limit.” The state AGs are investigating whether Monsanto offered financial incentives to dealers or farmers to exclude competing products. A Monsanto spokesman said these were “unsubstantiated allegations.”