FTC and state partners sue Syngenta and Corteva

The Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of 10 state attorneys general on Sept. 29 filed a complaint in federal court against pesticide manufacturers Syngenta Crop Protection and Corteva, Inc. for allegedly paying distributors to block competitors from selling cheaper generic products to farmers.

According to an FTC release, “The complaint alleges that the pesticide firms run so-called ‘loyalty programs’ in which distributors only get paid if they limit business with competing manufacturers. Cutting off competition has allowed the defendants to inflate their prices and force American farmers to spend millions of dollars more for their products. The complaint seeks to shut down this pay-to-block scheme and restore competition to affected markets.”

“The FTC is suing to stop Syngenta and Corteva from maintaining their monopolies through harmful tactics that have jacked up pesticide prices for farmers,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “By paying off distributors to block generic producers from the market, these giants have deprived farmers of cheaper and more innovative options. Our lawsuit in partnership with a bipartisan state coalition makes clear that we are united in our fight to stop abusive monopolies from squeezing America’s farmers.”

Syngenta responded in a statement Sept. 30: “These discounts are part of a voluntary and industry-standard program that has been in place for decades at Syngenta and other crop protection companies.

“Syngenta strongly disagrees with the FTC’s complaint, which it believes is contrary to the facts and the law and is without merit. This program is only one of several incentive programs offered by Syngenta in the US, and we are disappointed that the FTC has failed to appreciate the beneficial effects that these rebate programs provide to our channel partners and to growers.”

The complaint was joined by the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin. See the complaint at https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/ftc_gov/pdf/SygentaComplaint.pdf.