Farmer leaders from the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) and the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) met recently with representatives from Monsanto and among the topics was Monsanto’s pursuit of Syngenta.
The meeting, held June 29 in Mankato, was a chance for Minnesota Soybean leaders to learn more about the proposed purchase of Syngenta, and also to get an overall look at Monsanto’s vision moving forward. Brett Begemann, President and Chief Operating Officer of Monsanto, assured MSGA and MSR&PC leaders that Monstano is focused on the challenge of doubling the food supply over the next 35 years and is working to drive productivity on land currently farmed.
Paul Freeman, president of the MSGA and farmer from Starbuck, Minn., put Begemann to the test, asking if Monsanto was ready to face the court of public opinion.
“I like that they recognize what is going on in the food business,” Freeman said. “Consumers are becoming more aware of what they are eating. Getting people to the table in honest and truthful discussion is key.”
New MSR&PC Chairman Keith Schrader, of Nerstrand, Minn., said he was pleased with the way the meeting went.
“I was happy with their openness and frankness as they communicated with us. The conversation was by no means one-sided,” he said. “We understand their want of the chemistry and chemicals business and their reasons for it. Before the meeting, I made sure our intentions were known to friends and neighbors who farm. I feel very comfortable going back with the information I have gleaned and sharing this with them.”
MSR&PC Treasurer Rochelle Krusemark, who farmers near Trimont, Minn., also attended the meeting. She said that having a major agriculture company take time to update Minnesota soybean farmers is important.
“I was impressed with Monsanto’s transparency and willingness to come and sit at the table with us,” she said. “It shows they value farmers enough to take this meaningful initiative to gain our support.”
Former MSR&PC chairman, Paul Simonsen, who farms near Farifax, Minn., said the most important thing Minnesota soybean farmers need to understand about the meeting is that they were represented at the table with Monsanto.
“I’m relieved that they see the importance of farmer input on this matter,” he said. “They are looking for farmers to be on board with their decision. As farmers, we were at the meeting to represent farmers’ voice and make it heard.”
Minnesota Corn Growers Association representatives Tim Wiersma and Tim Waibel also participated in the meeting.
Also discussed by Monsanto at the meeting:
- Farmers will continue to have the choices they have today, as Monsanto has already publically committed that the company will divest seeds and competing chemistry products. Monsanto will remain focused on delivering great products to farmers.
- The company hears growers and industry concerns surrounding MIR162 problems; Monsanto is committed to being a leader in stewardship and working together to find a solution.
- Much can be gained by bringing a full range of technologies under one roof. The combined company will have more R&D horsepower to deliver more products faster.
- Being able to work with a broader range of technologies will allow Monsanto to better integrate the advances in seeds and traits, chemistry and data science, and that will give Monsanto insights that farmers can then use to integrate those tools on the farm.
- Monsanto will continue its longstanding practice of licensing and supplying its technologies to competitors so that farmers can purchase from suppliers of personal choice.
- The company is considering options such as a name or location change to satisfy shareholders.
- Farmers are central to Monsanto’s success, and the company is committed to continue to focus on accelerating innovation for all farmers.