In a story first posted to the Wall Street Journal, Canadian antitrust authorities are investigating some big players in the agriculture world.
The Competition Bureau is reportedly looking at whether Bayer AG, Corteva Inc., and BASF violated Canadian competition law in their dealings against Farmers Business Network, which entered the Canadian market in 2018.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the bureau is seeking records and communications from the three companies, as well as from farm-supply wholesalers such as Cargill Inc and Univar Solutions Inc, citing documents filed on Jan. 30 in Canadian federal court.
In March of 2018, FBN announced its plan to aggressively tackle the Canadian market. Using a membership model, farmers in Canada would have access to FBN’s data and crop input pipeline for $800 per year. Additionally, the membership would also require a farm to contribute its data to the network.
When RealAgriculture reached out to FBN, a spokesperson for the company said, “We believe competition and price transparency is fundamental to a market economy, and to lowering farm expenses, so we are pleased that the Bureau is looking into this matter. We cannot comment directly on the Competition Bureau’s process.”
All three companies listed are fully cooperative with the Competition Bureau according to statements sent to RealAgriculture.
“We are, and have been for several months, cooperating with the Competition Bureau in Canada regarding this inquiry and are confident that the actions we took in this matter fully comply with Canada’s competition law.” – Bayer Ag
“We can confirm that the Competition Bureau is gathering information from a number of entities, including BASF Canada, in connection with its civil inquiry into policies or practices of certain manufacturers and wholesalers of agricultural products operating in western Canada. We believe that BASF Canada has not contravened the Competition Act and are confident that we can address any concerns that the Commissioner of Competition may have in connection with the inquiry. BASF Canada supports competition in the agriculture market that helps to enhance market access and the safe and sustainable delivery of our products to our customers.” – BASF
“We were notified by the Canadian Competition Bureau of its decision to begin a formal inquiry of a number of seed and crop protection manufacturers and wholesalers, that operate in Canada, including Corteva Agriscience, under civil sections of Canada’s competition laws relating to allegations by Farmers Business Network (FBN). We are reviewing the full Canadian Competition Bureau inquiry and intend to cooperate fully with the Canadian Competition Bureau and defend our go-to-market strategies and business model. Our conduct and business model was and is compliant with Canadian competition laws and completely appropriate for our business and, most importantly, for our farmer customers.” – Corteva Agriscience