LETTER TO JOHN CONYERS
The Honorable John Conyers
U.S. House of Representatives
2426 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington DC 20515
December 20, 2006
Dear Chairman Conyers:
It has come to my attention that there is a growing concern among the black farming community over the increased consolidation of the independent seed and agricultural companies. In fact, one such example of this – the proposed merger between Monsanto and Delta & Pine Land – is currently under review by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). I strongly urge you to ask the DOJ to consider this action very carefully and its consequences not only for black farmers but for the entire industry as well.
The Monsanto-Delta & Pine Land merger would create a virtual monopoly on the American cotton industry. Monsanto already controls 95 percent of the cotton bio-tech seed market, and Delta & Pine Land supplies more than 75 percent of the cotton seed market in the Southeastern United States . A merger between the two would create fewer choices for black farmers and less competition which would stifle innovation in the industry.
As President of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA), which has 66,000 U.S. members and more than 125,000 members in the continent of Africa , I firmly believe more competition will mean better and more diverse products for our farmers as well as at a lower cost. Farmers must have some individual rights to purchase the right combination of seeds and traits to suit their needs and local growing conditions – not just the seeds and traits that dominate the market because of unfair business practices.
In fact, back in 1998 during the Clinton Administration, Monsanto proposed the same exact merger, which the DOJ considered carefully and was prepared to file an injunction to block the merger. Monsanto wisely withdrew the application after leaning about DOJ’s imminent action.
The conditions, facts and consequences for farmers which existed in 1998 are still present today. On behalf of black farmers everywhere, I ask that you send a letter to the DOJ asking them to scrutinize the immense impact this merger will have on farmers and the industry as a whole. The NBFA also requests that the Judiciary Committee hold hearings on this very important issue.
Dr. John W. Boyd, Jr