If cotton farmers had any concerns that Scott, Miss.-based Delta and Pine Land Co. would disappear into the folds of Monsanto when the two begin to combine their business operations, they can put those worries aside.
Monsanto officials say that when the companies complete their merger agreement sometime in the next year, the new company's Southern business unit will be called Delta and Pine Land.
“Monsanto's entire Southern business will be known as Delta and Pine Land and will include D&PL brands of cotton and soybean seed, DeKalb corn and Asgrow soybeans and Roundup brand herbicides,” said Kevin Eblen, who will be Monsanto's Delta and Pine Land business lead.
Speaking at a press conference called by Monsanto to announce the divestiture of its Stoneville and NexGen business, Eblen said the new Southern business unit will also keep the familiar green and yellow Delta and Pine Land color scheme.
“Being closely linked to U.S. cotton producers is very important to our future success,” said Eblen, an Iowa native who has been the head of Monsanto's acquisition team in the D&PL merger. “With respect for the fact that Delta and Pine Land is a Southern business, Monsanto will maintain operations in Scott, Miss., and Memphis, Tenn.”
Randy Dismuke, who has been senior vice president at Delta and Pine Land, joined Eblen on the conference call. Eblen said Dismuke's new title has not been decided on, but that Monsanto expects him to be part of the new leadership team.
“I believe today's announcement is good news for cotton producers,” said Dismuke. “Across the Cotton Belt, cotton producers have trusted Delta and Pine Land to supply them with the best cotton varieties and looked to Monsanto for further innovation to benefit their operations and make positive changes in the way they grow cotton.”
Dismuke noted that Monsanto and Delta and Pine Land have worked together as business partners for years — the two brought the first Bollgard and Roundup Ready cotton varieties to the market — but as separate entities. “Now we have a great opportunity to serve cotton producers by combining the best the companies have to offer.” In the short term, he said, Monsanto and D&PL will make changes and improvements as they bring the two organizations together. “But our goal is to minimize disruption to cotton producers who depend on both of our companies and the products we sell. We will communicate with customers as we move through these transitions to ensure service is maintained.”
Eblen noted that both companies have been 100 percent focused on agriculture in recent years with Delta and Pine Land having nearly 100 years of experience in serving cotton producers.
“Being 100 percent focused on agriculture means we can only succeed if producers succeed,” he said. “Since cotton is one of our three strategic broad-acre crops, and we have just completed a $1.5 billion investment in cotton, we can only succeed if cotton producers succeed.
“Since 90 percent of the Delta and Pine Land business is U.S.-based, we can only succeed if U.S. cotton producers can succeed.”
Under the terms of the Department of Justice approval of the merger, Monsanto could not begin to merge with Delta and Pine Land until it completed its sale of Stoneville to Bayer CropScience and the sale of NexGen to Americot. Both were completed on June 19, the day of the tele-conference.
Monsanto was also required to provide Bayer CropScience with access to additional germplasm to make it more competitive in the Southeast and it is amending trait licensing agreements so all cotton licensees have the same terms D&PL enjoyed with regard to stacking traits from multiple providers.
Eblen also announced Monsanto was transferring germplasm containing VipCot back to Syngenta to enable it to work with D&PL and other companies as it continues to develop this technology.
“Monsanto agreed to these terms with the Department of Justice not only to facilitate the deal, but because we believe these steps are in the best interest of the cotton seed industry and cotton producers,” said Eblen. “This underscores our commitment to the U.S. cotton industry and to ensuring a competitive environment so that producers can access the varieties that are important to their operations.”