Approval for Bayer, Monsanto Merger Could Plow US Farmers Under

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The $60-billion deal that allows Bayer to acquire Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) reportedly received antitrust approval late Monday from the U.S. Justice Department after the two companies agreed to dispose of additional, as-yet unspecified assets.

Last month, in order to get approval for the deal in Europe, Bayer agreed to sell off more than $7 billion in assets, including its soybean and cottonseed businesses and its rival weed-killer to Monsanto’s Roundup.

Monsanto and Bayer have been pushing approval for the deal based on the idea that it will allow the combined firm to invest more in innovation so that the world will be able to meet future demands for food from a growing global population.

More likely, not. Agriculture analyst Mark Connelly of CLSA Americas, told Business Insider:

Let’s just cut to the chase: These companies want to make more money, they want to raise prices. No company in this industry needs these deals in order to innovate.

The mergers between Dow and DuPont and Syngenta and ChemChina have already reduced competition in the agricultural supply business. The Bayer-Monsanto deal is more of the same.

Connelly estimates that if Bayer-Monsanto were one company today it would get one-third of the money farmers spend on seed and pesticides. DowDupont Inc. (NYSE: DWDP) would get one-quarter of all spending on seeds and pesticides. That’s two companies hauling in nearly 60% of the revenues.

U.S. farmers also can look forward to seeing their access to foreign markets hobbled by the simmering trade war between the United States and China and the Trump administration’s dislike for the NAFTA deal. Exports of soybeans to China could end up being affected and current exports of corn to Mexico are also threatened. Trump’s promise that U.S. farmers will be “better off than they ever were” probably rings a bit hollower now than it did when he made it Monday.

Monsanto shares popped 6% after The Wall Street Journal reported the Justice Department’s approval Monday and closed at $125.15, in a 52-week range of $114.19 to $126.80. The high was posted yesterday.

Bayer’s shares were trading up about 4.7% Tuesday at €97.76.