Editor's Notebook: Bayer, Monsanto and Innovation

September 24, 2016 02:26 AM

As you hold this issue of Farm Journal in your hands, no doubt Bayer and Monsanto are still making the case for their proposed merger. 

The companies announced Sept. 14, as this issue was going to print, they had reached an agreement for the German company to buy Monsanto for $66 billion.

The companies say the marriage would unite Bayer’s strength in crop chemicals with Monsanto’s in seeds and data science, speeding innovative solutions to farmers sooner. 

While the need for performance in the field has never been greater, the question of how to get there doesn’t draw a clear consensus, at least not yet.

Monsanto Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley told me after the announcement many of the farmers he’s talked to see a need for that innovation—and for the major research and development (R&D) investment ($3 billion yearly for the merged company) required to drive it.

“You see the shift that growers realize it’s going to take more R&D” for them to maintain profitability and feed the world, Fraley said, adding he plans to spend a lot of time during the next several months “having those conversations with farmers.”

I’m glad to hear that. Because even though many of the farmers we’ve interviewed, and whom we follow on social media, say they do look forward to the robust pipeline of products and services such a merger could produce, some don’t like what they’re seeing. 

For example, in a Farm Journal Media text poll taken the day of the announcement, 67% of the more than 2,600 farmers who responded answered “no” to the question of whether they support the Bayer/Monsanto merger. Ten percent said yes, 18% were undecided and 5% had no opinion.

How about you? What do you think? Drop me a note online or in the mail. Your opinion is important, and we want to hear it.

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