News broke last week that, it appears the mega-merger between Bayer and Monsanto will happen, creating another diverse giant in the ag industry.
The Germany-based Bayer had launched data-driven platforms including xario and Zoner in recent years. But in an increasingly crowded data management service field, those brands got little if any attention in North America.
But even if Bayer sheds some of its current digital farming assets, the acquisition of Monsanto could heighten the debate over how farm data is collected and manipulated by companies, potentially to influence purchasing decisions by farmers.
Monsanto would bring with it access to the Climate Corp., and its FieldView platform. Monsanto has aggressively sought to expand its data presence and last year announced that FieldView had more than 120 million acres and 100,000 users across the U.S., Brazil and Canada.
Ag attorney Todd Janzen notes that the merger, and others like it, could increase control over the decisions that are made on the farm.
“I think there should be concern with the large market share and power these seed and chemical companies are gaining through these mergers and then bundling their data services with their seed and chemical sales. You could have a situation where farmers are required to use a specific data platform if they want to use that seed or fertilizer company’s products, which would be an anti-trust problem, so hopefully we don’t go there.”
Consolidation is an increasingly common part of the ag industry, but in the case of data services, choice is a good thing, adds Janzen. However, he does point to a potential “silver lining” in that the formation of data giants could create opportunities for start-ups and smaller service providers.
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