Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) worries that the latest round of proposed agriculture industry merger and acquisition moves will “further concentrate an industry that’s already undergone massive consolidation.” He’s not alone.

Merger bids amid the top six seed and chemical companies have been giving farmers cause for worry for months. On Tuesday, Sept. 20, representatives from agribusinesses, farmer organizations and others participated in a Senate Judiciary Hearing on “Consolidation and Competition in the U.S. Seed and Agrochemical Industry.” Here are some highlights of the witness testimony at this hearing.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

“It’s no secret that I’ve long been concerned about concentration and competition in the agriculture sector. Farmers are unique, their profession involves accepting prices from input providers and commodity markets, while hoping for good weather in-between. Farmers don’t have the ability to simply raise the price of their crops when they sell them to pass on higher input costs.”

Jim Blome, President and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP

“As a native Iowan and farmer, I am highly optimistic for the future. By combining with Monsanto we will be well positioned to deliver on the innovation that farmers demand. Most importantly, this transaction brings together creative minds from two complementary segments of the industry to address the challenges farmers face today and in the future.”

Tim Hassinger, President and CEO of Dow AgroSciences

“In order for the U.S. to maintain its global leadership in agricultural production and technology, companies such as Dow and DuPont must find ways to more effectively and efficiently deliver new technologies and tools to the American farmer. With new technology, farmers will be able to improve productivity and deliver the quality and quantity of food the world needs. And that is the rationale behind our proposed merger.”

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

“These mega-mergers raise questions about competition, our food supply, nutrition, and the livelihood of our farm economy. A number of voices have expressed significant concerns that the proposed mergers would eliminate head-to-head competition, dampen innovation, reduce choices for farmers, increase prices for both farmers and their customers, and threaten our national security.”

Robb Fraley, Executive Vice President and CTO of Monsanto

“As someone who grew up on a small family farm in Illinois, I understand that change can be unsettling to farmers. But our industry is changing – and it needs to –  because the solutions we need can only come if companies embrace new technology, increase their investments, and accelerate research and development. And that’s why you are seeing the latest round of mergers right now.”

Roger Johnson, President of National Farmers Union

“A robust agricultural economy is key to a stable and secure nation. Increased consolidation in the sector puts family farmers and their communities in jeopardy.”

Diana Moss, President of the American Antitrust Institute

“The proposed mergers of Dow-DuPont and Monsanto-Bayer are likely to adversely affect competition in three ways. First, they will eliminate head-to-head competition in markets for certain crop seed and chemicals. Second, consolidation will eliminate competition in agricultural biotechnology innovation markets and reduce opportunities for procompetitive research and development collaborations. Third, the combinations would create substantial vertical integration between traits, seeds and chemicals. The resulting “platforms” will likely be engineered for the purpose of creating exclusive packages of traits, seeds and chemicals for farmers that do not “interoperate” with rival products. This will likely raise entry barriers for smaller innovators and increase the risk that they are foreclosed from access to technology and other resources needed to compete effectively.”

Tim Hassinger, President and CEO of Dow AgroSciences

“In order for the U.S. to maintain its global leadership in agricultural production and technology, companies such as Dow and DuPont must find ways to more effectively and efficiently deliver new technologies and tools to the American farmer. With new technology, farmers will be able to improve productivity and deliver the quality and quantity of food the world needs. And that is the rationale behind our proposed merger.”

Erik Fyrwald, CEO of Syngenta

”We will remain subject to all laws in the U.S., including FIFRA, TSCA, and other environmental statutes, consumer protection laws, IP, labor, healthcare, security, currency, antitrust, tax, tariff and customs laws, as well as all state laws. There will also be no changes in food safety oversight. Any of our products commercialized in the U.S. will always need to meet our own high standards as well the standards of the EPA, FDA and USDA review processes. All that has changed in this transaction is our shareholder base.”

Chris Novak, CEO of National Corn Growers Association

“While both NCGA and ASA are concerned about the loss of individual competitive market players as a result of ongoing consolidation, we also recognize the potential benefits to farmers from consolidation if robust competition can be preserved. The speed at which the industry continues to consolidate, and the tenuous state of our farm economy, dictate that we work diligently to ensure that our farmers will still have access to a range of technologies without suffering higher costs.”

Bob Young, Chief Economist for American Farm Bureau Federation

Everyone’s knee-jerk reaction is to think that increased concentration will lead to higher prices for these inputs. Knees tend to jerk reflexively, but sometimes they jerk with reason. AFBF is suggesting that the review of these mergers consider not only the market concentration/structure that will result from the individual company actions, but examine the structure of the entire industry in a post-merger environment. We have had several – and repeated – assurances from the companies involved as to their intent to maintain as strong an innovation arm as they can. We have no reason to doubt, but we also are reminded of the old line: trust, but verify.”