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Deere acquisition of Precision Planting halted by DOJ, companies contest

The Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust lawsuit Aug. 31 to block Deere & Company’s proposed acquisition of Precision Planting LLC from Monsanto Company.

The Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust lawsuit Aug. 31 to block Deere & Company’s proposed acquisition of Precision Planting LLC from Monsanto Company.

The Antitrust Division’s lawsuit alleges the transaction would combine the only two significant U.S. providers of high-speed precision planting systems – technology that is designed to allow farmers to plant crops accurately at higher speeds.  The acquisition would deny farmers throughout the country the benefits of competition that has spurred innovation, improved quality and lowered prices.  The department filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, according to DOJ statement.

“High-speed precision planting technology holds out the promise of improved yields for American farmers by enabling them to plant crops more accurately at higher speeds,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “Precision Planting has been a key innovator in high-speed precision planting and Deere’s only significant competitor in developing and selling these technologies.  If this deal were allowed to proceed, Deere would dominate the market for high-speed precision planting systems and be able to raise prices and slow innovation at the expense of American farmers who rely on these systems.”

According to the department’s complaint, Deere and Precision Planting are the only two effective competitors in high-speed precision planting, conservatively accounting for at least 86 percent of the market. 

In a prepared statement, Deere & Company and The Climate Corporation say they plan to contest the legal action by DOJ

In November, Deere and The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Company, announced they had signed a definitive agreement for Deere to acquire the Precision Planting LLC equipment business, and the companies cooperated fully with DOJ’s antitrust review, according to the statement.

“DOJ’s allegations about the competitive impacts of the transaction are misguided and the companies intend to defend the transaction vigorously against those allegations. Deere has long been focused on helping American farmers become more efficient and productive so that they can remain globally competitive. The proposed acquisition benefits farmers by accelerating the development and delivery of new precision equipment solutions that help farmers increase yield and productivity,” the joint statement says.

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