As an Arkansas business owner for a number of years, and as the chairman of the Arkansas Agriculture Committee in the state’s senate, I’m all too familiar with the increasing hardships faced by small and mid-sized businesses throughout the state. It seems that the 21st century has ushered in an unfortunate governmental bias for special interests, and America’s once level economic playing field has gained a steep slope. Regrettably, our local farmers and agriculture workers are not immune to the collective sufferings of our state’s small businesses. So it was with great disappointment that I learned of the pending Monsanto-Bayer merger, a union that could very well suffocate small farms, food providers and families across the state.
 
Agriculture is a necessity to America’s economy, and ours is a state that contributes greatly to this industry. With over 43,000 active farming operations, Arkansas farmers produced over $2 billion in soybeans, corn, and cotton in 2016 alone. A Monsanto-Bayer merger, however, would grant the two companies control over 90 percent of U.S. soybean and cotton traits, and 77 percent of its corn seed. All this would add up to a $66 billion goliath that would create unprecedented market control, diminish innovation, and increase prices for farmers and families. In a free market, increased competition drives down prices. This merger would do just the opposite.
 
A recent study published by Farmers and Families First, Inc. reports that a Monsanto-Bayer merger could result in a 5.5 percent increase in aggregate seed prices, and a 20 percent increase in cottonseed prices. Seeds are a farmer’s greatest expense. With our farmers already working with paper-thin profit margins, these price increases would be a crippling blow to their business.
 
Throughout American history, state and federal government has championed the agricultural workforce, and with good reason: families need affordable, quality food. But this merger would not only increase prices for farmers, the impact would force its way down and raise prices on essential foods and groceries on families who are already on strict budgets.
 
Rather than offer support to our hardworking farmers, government officials appear to be favoring a corporate monopolization of American agriculture. A Monsanto-Bayer merger will only benefit Monsanto and Bayer. Our economic framework is based on the fundamental value of a competitive, free market, and to grant one massive company domination of that market flies in the face of American commerce. Our country’s middle class should not suffer at the expense of special interest and big business.
 
A Monsanto-Bayer merger is about as un-American as it gets, and something Arkansas simply can’t afford.
 
Senator Ron Caldwell represents District 23 in the State Senate which includes Jackson County and portions of Cross, Lee, Monroe, St. Francis. White and Woodruff counties