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FTC Chair Talks to Iowa Farmers Over Fertilizer Monopoly Concerns

 |  April 21, 2024

The Chair of the Federal Trade Commission, Linda Khan, visited rural Iowa this weekend to engage directly with farmers and local residents regarding the proposed sale of Iowa Fertilizer to Koch Industries. This sale, which is pending FTC approval, has sparked widespread concern among agricultural stakeholders, particularly in light of Iowa’s significant investment in fostering competition within the fertilizer industry.

Iowa’s $500 million investment in the construction of the Iowa Fertilizer factory in Waverly was intended to boost competition in an industry already characterized by consolidation. Aaron Lehman, President of the Iowa Farmers Union, expressed his apprehension that a sale to Koch Industries could harm any competitive gains made by the state.

Lehman emphasized the potential ramifications of further industry consolidation, stating, “Our concern is that an industry that already lacks competition and has all sorts of monopoly problems would only get worse if this sale is allowed to go through.”

Related: Iowa Democrats Call for Antitrust Probe into Koch’s Fertilizer Plant Deal

While Koch Industries and other corporate agricultural conglomerates argue that consolidation leads to enhanced efficiency and product quality, Lehman and other critics fear that such consolidation could result in increased prices for farmers, ultimately translating into higher food prices for Iowans.

The hearing, scheduled for Saturday on Main Street in Nevada, serves as a platform for farmers and residents to express their concerns directly to FTC Chair Linda Khan. Lehman stressed the importance of providing firsthand accounts to decision-makers, stating, “Our farmers need to tell their story about how the industry is already in a monopoly state.”

The Iowa Farmers Union, alongside 18 other agricultural organizations, has called on both the FTC and the Justice Department to scrutinize the proposed sale, highlighting the broader implications for competition and pricing within the agricultural sector.

Source: Des Moines Register