In another sign of trouble for so-called advanced biofuels, the newly created giant corporation DowDuPont stopped operations at its $225 million cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa, and hopes to find a buyer for the plant with a 30-million-gallon-a-year capacity, said the Des Moines Register. Last December, Abengoa Bioenergy sold its cellulosic plant in Hugoton, Kan., for pennies on the dollar as part of a bankruptcy liquidation of assets.
Spurred by nearly 1,000 complaints of crop damage from dicamba this summer, the Arkansas State Plant Board has proposed a ban on using the weedkiller on cotton and soybeans from April 16 to Oct. 31 — effectively the entire growing season. The EPA also is considering restrictions on the use of dicamba, which was touted as a new tool against invasive weeds resistant to other herbicides but has also been blamed for damaging more than 3 million acres of soybeans nationwide.
The Arkansas State Plant Board, which is scheduled to decide today whether to limit use of the weedkiller dicamba in 2018, is getting advice that ranges from a letter that suggests permitting use of the herbicide as late as May 25 to a petition against any limits at all, says broadcaster KARK. A task force convened at the direction of Gov. Asa Hutchinson has recommended an April 15 cutoff for using dicamba on cotton and soybeans in the state next year.
Pesticide makers sent letters to federal regulators asking them to "set aside" agency research into the risks to endangered species from three organophosphate pesticides — chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion — says The Associated Press. Dow Chemical (whose chief executive "is a close adviser" to President Trump), FMC Corp. and Adama, sent letters to the EPA and the Commerce and Interior Departments to argue the studies should not be used.
In a multibillion-dollar asset swap, Dow is selling part of its crop protection operation to FMC and and picking up nearly all of FMC's health and nutrition business. As part of the deal, FMC will acquire a Dow agricultural research center in Newark and turn it into the global research and development center for FMC, which is based in Philadelphia, says the Wilmington News Journal.
The administrative arm of the European Union approved the merger of Dow and DuPont based on their promises to divest some assets, says Deutsche Welle. It was the first decision on a wave of proposed consolidations that would reshape the seed and ag-chemical sector into a "big three," down from the six firms that now compete.
Last summer, a federal appeals court gave the EPA until March 31 — this Friday — to decide whether to ban or allow continued use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, used on more than 50 crops, including alfalfa, corn, peanuts and wheat. Mother Jones says the new administration "will have to make a momentous choice" in its early days in office.
The seed and ag-chemical industry "is seemingly on the precipice of a significant structural transformation," says Senate Judiciary chairman Charles Grassley in remarks written for today's hearing on consolidation in the sector. Five of the "big six" companies are involved in mergers while two Canadian companies are combining to form the world's largest fertilizer company.
Ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on consolidation in the seed and ag chemical sector, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission say they will consider the combined impact of mergers as well as the import of each deal. If they go forward, the mergers would result in three dominant companies in the sector instead of the current six.
U.S. farm income is down sharply from the records set in 2013, with little improvement forecast in the near term. "If something doesn't change between now and 2018, we will be in a big crisis," said Zippy Duvall, president of the largest U.S. farm group, during a luncheon session with reporters, referring to the target date for Congress to overhaul farm policy law.
Two of the largest seed and agricultural chemical companies of the world, Bayer and Monsanto, will combine in a deal valued at $66 billion. Monsanto chief executive Hugh Grant said the merger, in which Bayer buys Monsanto for cash, will result in "an innovation engine that pairs Bayer’s crop protection portfolio with our world-class seeds and traits and digital agriculture tools to help growers overcome the obstacles of tomorrow."
The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court in Chicago to block Deere and Co., the world's largest farm equipment maker, from buying Precision Planting, its chief competitor in selling high-speed seed planters to farmers. The government says the two companies account for at least 86 percent of sales of the planters, which are expected to become the industry standard.
The administrative arm of the European Union opened an in-depth review of the proposed $130 billion merger of Dow and DuPont, identifying its three primary areas of concern as seeds, pesticides and petrochemicals.
The third-largest producer of agricultural chemicals, German-based BASF "is not backed into a corner" by the wave of mergers among the world's largest seed and agricultural-chemical companies, says deputy chief executive Martin Brudermueller.
Three big mergers among the world's largest seed and agricultural chemical companies are under way or proposed — Bayer and Monsanto, ChemChina and Syngenta, and Dow and DuPont — creating concerns among growers of fewer choices and higher prices when they go shopping. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Harvest Public Media, “I’m not going to respond directly to particular business transactions."
Delaware "beat out Iowa and Indianapolis to land the corporate headquarters for what will be the largest agriculture company in the nation, a spin-off that will be created after the merger of DuPont and Dow later this year," reports the Wilmington News Journal.
Ten employees at Syngenta Kauai were taken to the hospital when they walked onto a corn field 20 hours after the application of chlorpyrifos, reports The Civil Beat. Typically, workers are supposed to wait 24 hours before going back into the fields after a chlorpyrifos spray. Three of the workers stayed overnight at the hospital, but all have since been released and cleared for work.
Farmers need "new technology to address the weed control challenges on U.S. farms now," and the EPA should make sure a new weedkiller is available for the spring planting season, said five large U.S. ag groups.
The potential merger of industrial giants Dow and Dupont "would merge two agricultural chemicals businesses and fold in DuPont's seeds business, analysts said, bringing a close look from regulators. Farmers said they were concerned about higher prices for seeds and chemicals," reported Reuters.