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Dayton wants ag mergers checked

ST. PAUL -- The federal government should investigate what some call a "tsunami" of agri-business mergers, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has told the state's congressional delegation.

"At a time when farmers are experiencing commodity prices lower than the cost of production, I am concerned that the creation of less choice in the marketplace will result in increased input prices for which farmers are already paying a high premium," Dayton wrote this week. "I urge you all to carefully consider these consolidations and what their outcomes will mean for farm families in Minnesota and across the nation."

With agriculture supporting more than 340,000 Minnesota jobs, with $90 billion in economic activity, the state's economy stands to lose if competition decreases, Dayton wrote.

"Consolidation over time has led to the control of large portions of the market for seed, genetic material and agricultural chemicals by six major companies," Dayton said. "The recent announcements of mergers and acquisitions of Dow and DuPont, Bayer and Monsanto and ChemChina and Syngenta would further consolidate control to three major companies."

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, top Democrat on the Senate antitrust subcommittee, has agreed with Dayton, including the proposed acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer.

"We must consider not just the merger's impact on seed prices, but whether it will also stifle innovation and competition," Klobuchar said.

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