DuPont 'committed' to Iowa in Dow merger

By Philip Brasher

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2015 - DuPont, which is planning a merger with Dow Chemical, says it is “committed” to the state of Iowa, where the company's Pioneer seed operations were founded 90 years ago.

However, a statement issued by DuPont stopped short of saying what would happen to the Johnson, Iowa-based DuPont Pioneer unit after the merger. 

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Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters Tuesday that he wants to make sure the seed operations remain in Iowa if the planned merger of the agribusiness giants goes through. Losing DuPont Pioneer's base would be a “substantial blow” to his state, he said. 

“We're not going to give that up. They had better take that into consideration,” he said. 

In its statement to Agri-Pulse, DuPont said it was “committed to the state and the communities in which we operate. DuPont Pioneer has a unique combination of exceptional people, cutting edge science and technology, and facilities that can translate into growth, innovation and new opportunity - for our shareholders, customers, employees, and communities. 

“Pioneer has a deep history in Iowa and has exceptional capabilities as a leader in trait and seed development and crop science that provides outstanding support and choice to growers and partners.”

DuPont and Dow plan to split the combined entity into three independent companies, one of which would unite DuPont's and Dow's seed and crop protection businesses. Pioneer was incorporated in 1926 by Henry A. Wallace, later secretary of agriculture and vice president under Franklin Roosevelt. DuPont purchased the company in 1999.

Grassley said he may hold a hearing on the merger, and he also will ask the Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission to investigate its impact on competition in the agriculture sector.

DuPont on Tuesday reported an operating loss of $54 million for the fourth quarter of 2015 in its agriculture division that resulted in $188 million in lower operating earnings. 

The company attributed the loss to a $139 million negative currency impact, coupled with a $30 million negative impact from the continued shutdown of its LaPorte, Texas, insecticide plant, which more than offset gains from its price increases, cost reductions and productivity improvements. A toxic leak at the Texas facility killed four workers in 2014. 

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