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FBN’s Canadian competition complaint targets Bayer, BASF, Cortevaqrcode

Feb. 11, 2020

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Feb. 11, 2020
On January 30, a Canadian federal investigation was launched after a complaint filed by startup Farmers Business Network (FBN) alleges it was unfairly treated by Bayer, BASF, Corteva and other large agribusinesses.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, Canada’s Competition Bureau is seeking records and communications from the firms after FBN purchased a Saskatchewan-based ag retail location, Yorkton Distributors in early 2018. It’s alleged the firms stopped supplying FBN’s new location and encouraged others to not do business with them.

While FBN says they are driven by price transparency and competition, the issue of product availability and a physical footprint are heavily at play.

Shortly after FBN unveiled its digital-only ecommerce business for ag inputs, it invested in regional warehouses—now totaling 10 in the U.S. The Saskatchewan location was the company’s first brick-and-mortar ag retail location, however this past December the company announced it has launched a partner program with 183 farmer members to expand its footprint in the U.S.

The company provided this statement to AgPro: “We believe competition and price transparency is fundamental to a market economy, and to lowering farm expenses, so we are pleased that the Bureau is looking into this matter. We cannot comment directly on the Competition Bureau’s process.”

Shaun Haney of Real Agriculture discussed the action on Friday's AgriTalk:

The three agribusiness companies provided the following statements to our reporting partners at Real Agriculture:

“We are, and have been for several months, cooperating with the Competition Bureau in Canada regarding this inquiry and are confident that the actions we took in this matter fully comply with Canada’s competition law.” – Bayer Ag

“We can confirm that the Competition Bureau is gathering information from a number of entities, including BASF Canada, in connection with its civil inquiry into policies or practices of certain manufacturers and wholesalers of agricultural products operating in western Canada. We believe that BASF Canada has not contravened the Competition Act and are confident that we can address any concerns that the Commissioner of Competition may have in connection with the inquiry. BASF Canada supports competition in the agriculture market that helps to enhance market access and the safe and sustainable delivery of our products to our customers.” – BASF

“We were notified by the Canadian Competition Bureau of its decision to begin a formal inquiry of a number of seed and crop protection manufacturers and wholesalers, that operate in Canada, including Corteva Agriscience, under civil sections of Canada’s competition laws relating to allegations by Farmers Business Network (FBN). We are reviewing the full Canadian Competition Bureau inquiry and intend to cooperate fully with the Canadian Competition Bureau and defend our go-to-market strategies and business model. Our conduct and business model was and is compliant with Canadian competition laws and completely appropriate for our business and, most importantly, for our farmer customers.” – Corteva Agriscience


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