Competition Bureau obtains court orders to advance agricultural investigation
February 12, 2020 - GATINEAU, QC – Competition Bureau
On February 11, 2020, the Competition Bureau obtained court orders to advance an ongoing civil investigation into alleged anti-competitive policies or practices of certain manufacturers and wholesalers of agricultural products operating in western Canada.
The Bureau is investigating allegations that a number of manufacturers and wholesalers of seeds and crop protection products (such as insecticides, fungicides and herbicides) have anti-competitively refused to supply or restricted supply to Farmers Business Network Canada (FBN), a retailer of agricultural inputs and operator of an online analytics platform for farmers. It is also investigating whether some of these entities may have engaged in co-ordinated behaviour against FBN.
The manufacturers and wholesalers under investigation include BASF, Bayer-Monsanto, Cargill, Corteva, Federated Coop, Univar Solutions and Winfield.
The orders granted by the Federal Court of Canada require these manufacturers and wholesalers, and their affiliates, to produce records and written information relevant to the Bureau’s investigation.
The Bureau is looking to determine if the alleged conduct may significantly harm competition and innovation in Canada’s agricultural sector.
There is no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time.
Agriculture is a critical part of the Canadian economy. Protecting competition and innovation remains as important in this industry as in emerging sectors – particularly digital innovation that may provide disruptive competitive threats to established incumbents.
FBN, which entered Canada in November 2017, is the wholly owned Canadian subsidiary of Farmers Business Network Inc., a United States based company founded in 2014.
FBN operates a digital agriculture platform which gives farmers access to a variety of data-related services, such as:
- agronomic advice on seed selection and yield benchmarking; and
- a pricing comparison tool that allows farmers to receive aggregated information on what other farmers are paying for agricultural products.
The digital economy is currently an area of focus for the Bureau. We are closely monitoring the conduct of firms to prevent harm to competition and digital innovation in all sectors of the Canadian economy.
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