A PYMNTS Company

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

 |  February 11, 2024

Iowa’s Democratic state representatives have sounded the alarm on Koch Industries Inc.’s recent $3.6 billion acquisition of a fertilizer plant within the state. Citing concerns over potential monopolistic practices and the adverse impact on workers, all 36 Democratic lawmakers have urged federal and state antitrust authorities to thoroughly scrutinize the deal’s ramifications.

The acquisition, which could significantly bolster Koch Industries’ dominance in the fertilizer market, has sparked fears among legislators that it may not only lead to inflated fertilizer prices but also result in job losses, further consolidating Koch’s market power at the expense of workers.

Eric Posner, a respected voice on antitrust issues from the University of Chicago Law School, emphasized the growing attention federal agencies are paying to labor market effects in merger assessments, reported Bloomberg. “If this is the type of merger that would reduce the number of employers in a labor market…then it would definitely be a concern to the FTC and DOJ,” Posner stated, highlighting the potential implications for local labor markets, reported Bloomberg.

Read more: Pilgrim’s Pride Execs, Koch Foods Charged With Chicken Price-Fixing

The lawmakers’ plea comes at a time when federal agencies are increasingly focusing on labor market dynamics in antitrust evaluations. Recent condemnations of Microsoft Corp.’s job cuts following its acquisition of Activision Blizzard Inc., and investigations into the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for alleged labor market abuses, underscore the heightened scrutiny on corporate consolidation and its impact on workers.

Moreover, President Joe Biden’s executive order aimed at enhancing competition in various sectors, including agriculture, identifies concentrated market power in fertilizer and other agricultural input industries as a significant threat to farmers’ livelihoods. This executive order, coupled with the lawmakers’ appeal, could prompt regulators to take a closer look at the potential anticompetitive effects of Koch Industries’ acquisition in Iowa.

Source: News Bloomberg Law