Leaders from four farm groups, including the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS), SaskCanola, Sask Wheat and SaskBarley, have penned a letter to Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Minister, urging the government of Saskatchewan to conduct a thorough risk assessment concerning the proposed merger of Bunge and Viterra, which is currently under review by Transport Canada and Competition Bureau Canada.
In the letter, the leaders commended the government's past efforts, specifically referencing the assessments conducted in 2010 for the proposed merger of BHP Billiton and Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, as well as the 2012 examination of the Glencore-Viterra merger. The four organizations strongly advocate for a similarly rigorous approach for the present proposal.
To provide guidance for this critical assessment, the groups proposed six key areas for consideration:
- Assessment of historical consolidation impacts: an in-depth analysis of the consequences of previous consolidations within Saskatchewan's agricultural industry.
- Regional competition within the grain handling system: a comprehensive evaluation of regional competition dynamics throughout the province's grain handling system.
- Implications on agricultural markets and supply chain: a detailed study of the potential implications the merger may have on agricultural markets, commodity pricing, and the overall supply chain.
- Port infrastructure consolidation and international market access: an examination of the possible consolidaon of port infrastructure and its effects on Saskatchewan's access to international markets and delivery at inland handling facilities.
- Market concentration and ownership: an assessment of the resulting changes in industry ownership and market concentration within the province.
- Impact on employment: an evaluation of the potential impact on head office jobs and employment within the grain industry across Saskatchewan.
As the 2023 harvest season approaches its conclusion, concerns within the province have become evident. A survey released by RealAgriculture on September 20 showed that 79% of western farmers expressed concern about the proposed merger, with Saskatchewan farmers expressing the highest level of concern.
The leaders emphasized the importance of creating a structured process for engaging with the farm community and listening to their concerns, describing it as both a valuable and timely undertaking. The group believes such an effort would be greatly appreciated by farmers and would contribute significantly to informed decision-making.