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Monsanto to Charge Farmers 42% Extra

1.Monsanto to Charge as Much as 42% More for New Seeds
2.Antitrust Enforcers Begin Visiting Farm Belt

NOTE: Important to remember that this follows on from other enormous price hikes from Monsanto for GM seeds and Roundup.
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1.Monsanto to Charge as Much as 42% More for New Seeds
Jack Kaskey
Bloomberg, August 13 2009
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aLW8VZBkP3PA

Monsanto Co., the world's largest seed maker, plans to charge as much as 42 percent more for new genetically modified seeds next year than older offerings because they increase farmers’ output.

Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans will cost farmers an average of $74 an acre in 2010, and original Roundup Ready soybeans will cost $52 an acre, St. Louis-based Monsanto said today in presentations on its Web site. SmartStax corn seeds, developed with Dow Chemical Co., will cost $130 an acre, 17 percent more than the YieldGard triple-stack seeds they will replace.

"Our pricing has the flexibility built in to ensure the grower captures the greatest return from his seed investment, irrespective of market volatility,” Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant said today in a statement.

Grant is introducing new modified seeds that boost yields as part of a plan to double gross profit from 2007 to 2012. The new soybeans, which resist Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, produce 7.4 percent more soybeans per acre than the older version. SmartStax kills insects in multiple ways, reducing the amount of conventional corn that must be planted to deter insecticide resistance.

"SmartStax pricing is higher than we initially expected," Vincent Andrews, a New York-based analyst at Morgan Stanley, said today in a report.

Monsanto rose $1.57, or 1.9 percent, to $84.03 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 19 percent this year.

Acreage Forecasts

SmartStax corn seed will be planted on as many as 4 million acres in 2010, its first year on the market, with a potential for as many as 65 million acres in the U.S. eventually, the company said. The new seed boosts yields 5 percent to 10 percent compared with other products, partly by reducing the amount of land that must be planted with conventional corn to 5 percent from 20 percent, Monsanto said.

Pricing for SmartStax is at the high end of expectations, Laurence Alexander, a New York-based analyst at Jefferies & Co., said by telephone.

Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybean seeds were planted on 1.5 million acres this year and will be planted on as many as 8 million acres next year in the U.S. with a potential to one day reach 55 million acres, Monsanto said.

The company is pricing its seeds to share the benefit of increased yields with farmers, said Mark Gulley, a New York- based analyst at Soleil Securities. Prices include seed treatments designed to protect seedlings from pests and disease, Monsanto said.

"They are in essence splitting the value of the extra yield 50-50," Gulley said by telephone.

Monsanto repeated its forecast for earnings in the fiscal year that ends this month at the low end of a range of $4.40 to $4.50 a share. The average estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for profit of $4.41 a share.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jack Kaskey in New York at jkaskey@bloomberg.net
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2.Antitrust Enforcers Begin Visiting Farm Belt
Scott Kilman
Wall Street Journal, August 8 2009 [shortened]
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124966657364914957.html

ST. LOUIS -- The Obama administration will take an extensive look at concentration in U.S. agriculture as part of its increased emphasis on antitrust enforcement, a Justice Department official said Friday.

Philip J. Weiser, a telecommunications-law expert who was recently named deputy assistant attorney general, told a farmer gathering here that federal antitrust regulators are "committed to examining" the level of competition in several agribusiness sectors, such as the marketing of genetically modified seed, dairy processing and meatpacking.

Washington has often sympathized with farmers who find themselves selling their commodities to fewer and larger processors. But the Obama administration is taking a further step, with plans for a nationwide series of sessions next year for the U.S. Agriculture Department to hear competitive concerns of farmers.

Mr. Weiser's remarks are another sign the Obama administration intends to step up enforcement of antitrust laws. In May, the Justice Department's antitrust division withdrew anti-monopoly legal guidelines issued under the Bush administration and signaled closer scrutiny of some industries.

While Mr. Weiser didn't single out any agricultural companies for criticism, his 30-minute appearance came in the hometown of St. Louis crop-biotechnology titan Monsanto Co., where he addressed the annual convention of a farmers advocacy group called the Organization for Competitive Markets. Officials of the group have complained about Monsanto's dominance over genetically modified seeds.

The vast majority of the genetically modified crops grown in the U.S. farm belt contains at least one gene from Monsanto.
—Evan Perez in Washington contributed to this article.

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