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June 19, 2014

Competition key to strong ag industry
By Dan Mazier

Maintaining competition is important in all sectors of our economy, but in agriculture, it’s even more of a concern given the consolidations over the last 15 years that have seen the number of companies serving our industry drastically reduced.

I refer to the changes that have occurred in the grain-buying, chemical, seed, and fertilizer sectors. It’s ironic that we compete with millions of farmers from around the world, and yet, there are now fewer and fewer companies competing for our business.

Competition creates choices, drives innovation and improves service, while a lack of competition does exactly the opposite – and we only need to look at the situation with the railways to illustrate this point. Any incentive by the two major railways to provide decent and fair service is simply not there because their customers are captive; they have no where else to go.

Many producers are now talking about the possible takeover of Syngenta by Monsanto, and what that would mean to the technology we rely upon. Less choice? Higher prices? Changes in TUA agreements? The list goes on.

KAP will be monitoring the situation as it unfolds, and if the transaction goes through we will provide input to the Competition Bureau as we have in past situations of this nature. We will also continue to stress to the federal government the importance of competition among those serving our industry, emphasizing how it strengthens our ability to compete on the world market.

Dan Mazier is president of Keystone Agriculture Producers. He produces grains and oilseeds near Justice, Manitoba.