U.S. Senate judiciary committee to hold hearing on ag chem deals

(Dave Bedard photo)

Washington | Reuters — The U.S. Senate judiciary committee will hold a hearing in late September to discuss the mergers of Dow Chemical and Dupont as well as ChemChina’s purchase of Syngenta, committee chair Charles Grassley said in a statement Tuesday.

Grassley, a Republican from the farm state of Iowa, has already expressed concern that the deals would result in farmers paying more for seeds, pesticides and herbicides and reduce the companies’ incentives to innovate.

“The seed and chemical industries are critical to agriculture and the nation’s economy, and Iowans are concerned that this sudden consolidation in the industry could cause rising input costs in an already declining agriculture economy,” Grassley said.

Dow and DuPont said in December that they would combine in an all-stock merger with plans to then break into three separate businesses. In February, China’s state-owned ChemChina made a US$43 billion bid for Swiss seeds and pesticides group Syngenta.

Executives from the companies will be invited to testify, as will consumer groups, the lawmaker said in a statement.

The committee has no formal say over whether the deals may go forward. The Justice Department is looking at the merger of Dow and DuPont, while the Federal Trade Commission is reviewing ChemChina’s purchase of Syngenta.

Reporting for Reuters by Diane Bartz.

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