Once Monsanto was bought by Bayer, the innovation center was renamed the Bayer Crop Science Innovation Center. The office of Bayer in the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Research Park in Champaign, Illinois, on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. photo by Investigate Midwest

In 2015, farmers had six companies to choose from to purchase their seeds and pesticides. But, following mergers, notably Bayer’s purchase of Monsanto in 2018, farmers had fewer choices. 

By 2020, just four companies controlled the markets for important cash crops of corn, soybeans and cotton. And two international conglomerates, Bayer and Corteva, own the majority of the seed markets for those commodities.

The industry’s mergers received antitrust attention, but the federal government ultimately approved them.

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Sky Chadde has covered the agriculture industry for Investigate Midwest since 2019 and spent much of 2020 focused on the crisis of COVID-19 in meatpacking plants, which included collecting and analyzing...