By Brett Begemann, President and Chief Operating Officer
There’s never been a more important or exciting time to be in agriculture, and I’m fortunate to be able to get out and talk with folks around the country about what these dynamic times have meant for their businesses and customers.
I had a chance this week to talk with growers, researchers and bank leaders who help farmers continue to invest to meet the changing demands of our growing world. I served on a panel Wednesday at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s annual Agriculture Symposium, which focused on the ways consumer food preferences are changing – and how the industry is working to meet those demands.
There was a lot of talk among panelists and the audience about the complexity of the challenges facing farmers and food producers. Sustainability, water and land preservation, climate change, population growth, food insecurity – agriculture sits squarely in the middle of all these issues, and it has a major role to play in global solutions.
While there’s no one answer to these intricate challenges, there’s one thing that will be essential to solving them: innovation.
Innovation will be essential to achieve the goal of freezing the footprint of agriculture – in other words, feeding more people with the same amount of farmland. Innovation will drive us toward slowing the rate of climate change. And – you guessed it – innovation is critical to making balanced meals accessible to everyone.
That spirit of discovery is behind everything we do here at Monsanto. And it’s why I continue to talk with growers, industry leaders and consumers about the recent proposal we’ve made to combine with Syngenta to create a new company. This combination is about innovation – bringing new tools to farmers across the world as they work to become more effective and more sustainable. The world isn’t creating any more land or any more water. We have to work with what we have to feed an additional 2 billion people in the next 35 years, and it’s going to take all the tools we can find.
That’s why we want to offer products that work together to better meet the needs of each grower. Combining Syngenta’s crop protection solutions with Monsanto’s expertise in seeds, traits and information technology would provide farmers with more opportunities, more precision and faster innovation. A combined company would be able to work harder and more effectively for growers, especially when it comes to research and development of new tools and solutions.
Any news of a possible combination of competitors can create some questions about choice, and I received questions about this at the Ag Symposium this week. So let me be clear on this point. Farmers will continue to have all of the choices available to them today – and more. We have committed to selling all of Syngenta’s seeds and traits businesses as well as certain overlapping herbicide assets to help maintain healthy competition in the marketplace.
We’re encouraged by the reaction to our proposal from our customers and owners. We think there’s a lot of opportunity and value that can be unlocked through a combination, and we’ll continue to push for conversations with Syngenta’s management and board. We know every step has to add value for farmers, and that we must continue to earn their business every single year. That is our commitment, and it will remain our commitment no matter what happens. At the end of the day, this is not about simply combining companies for the sake of doing so. It’s about bringing more, better tools to farmers, plain and simple.
To hear an in-depth interview with Brett Begemann by KFRM Radio, click on the left side of the bar below, next to the time clock.