Canada Antitrust Officials Probe Agriculture Companies

Cargill, Bayer AG, BASF, and other agriculture companies are under investigation by Canada’s antitrust authorities for allegedly trying to block a tech startup’s growth there.

Canada’s Competition Bureau is investigating the matter, according the Wall Street Journal, citing Canadian court documents filed last Thursday, January 30. Authorities are seeking e-mail and phone records from five agribusinesses, including Corteva Inc. and Univar Solutions, related to the California-based startup Farmers Business Network Inc. (FBN).

The investigation was prompted by a civil complaint FBN submitted a year ago to the agency alleging one of the agriculture companies stopped selling seeds and crop inputs to a Canadian business that FBN had recently acquired. FBN claims the company also urged farmers not to do business with the tech company, which is trying to shift North American farmers’ farm supply purchases online.

In exploring the claims, the Competition Bureau widened its lens to look at other agriculture companies, including Cargill, operating in the region.

FBN, founded in Silicon Valley by former Google executives and venture capitalists, is trying to build an online marketplace for farmers to buy seeds, pesticides, and other ag supplies, much like Amazon has done for consumers with everyday goods.