BILLINGS – One of the world’s largest Agri-Business mergers is now complete.
Bayer completed its $66 billion purchase of Monsanto on Thursday, creating the largest seed and agrochemical company in the world and farmers are weighing in with their thoughts.
“It’s always a concern when we see consolidations of this size within the Ag sector, but I think the pros will outweigh the cons,” said Mitch Konen, a farmer from Fairfield who serves on the Montana Grain Growers Association officer team as secretary.
He says one of the merger’s benefits might be streamlined innovation. “I believe the streamlined innovation that will come out of the merger over time will benefit the consumer as a whole and the farmer,” Konen said.
Over the years, the Monsanto name has been a target from those who are against herbicides, pesticides and GMO’s — and this concerns Konen.
“The view of the negatives will obscure the view of all the positives that actually come out of consolidations like this,” said Konen. “I think it’s done for a reason, so the companies can survive.”
The Bayer-Monsanto merger has grabbed the attention of others across the nation, too.
Daren Coppock is the CEO of the Agriculture Retailers Association and says while they don’t have an official position on the merger, they do see a couple of possible outcomes.
“It could end up concentrating the number of suppliers which translates to higher prices for both retailers and onto the grower,” said Coppock. “But these companies are being driven to consolidate because it costs a lot of money to develop new products and get them registered anymore."
"The last estimate I saw was about $400 million and 10 years to bring a new crop protection product from concept to the marketplace. And that’s only getting harder, more difficult and more expensive. So, this could mean it could lead to more innovation in the long run," Coppock added.
Konen says in mergers like this, farmers still have a very important role.
“We’re just a conduit between them and the consumers,” said Konen. “These large companies are doing it for the benefit of the consumer and the farmer. And they’re always trying to do it in an innovative and environmentally sustainable manner anymore.”
Even though Bayer became the sole owner of Monsanto on Thursday, both companies will continue to operate as separate entities for another two months, while Bayer sheds the $9 billion in assets regulators required it divest. Only then will the Monsanto name be retired, and the new Bayer emerge.