Officials at biotech and seed industry giant DuPont say they need an extra three months to complete the merger with rival Dow.

Iowa Farmers Union President Aaron Lehman of Polk City says the delay will give union members more time to weigh in with their opposition to the merger, as well as to other proposed pairings in the industry.

“Our farmers at our recent convention were pretty clear about what they thought, that not only this merger but the other mergers going on in agribusines now limit farmers’ choices,” Lehman says. “Innovation tends to take a hit when there’s fewer people doing it.” DuPont is the parent company of the Iowa-founded Pioneer Hi-Bred International. Lehman says the farmers union is also carefully watching deals involving Bayer and Monsanto as well as ChemChina and Syngenta.

“We need to take a long look at all of these large agri-business mergers and see if the farmers’ interests can be protected,” Lehman says. “What we see is less and less options for farmers which will ultimately lead to higher prices.” These mergers are coming at a bad juncture, he says, given the depressed agricultural economy.

“When the industry is under stress and under crisis, there are going to be opportunities for some mergers to take place,” Lehman says. “It just piles another brick on the load that farmers are carrying, along with very low, depressed commodity prices. We have to deal with fewer choices and ultimately higher input prices. The timing couldn’t be worse.”

The initial closing date on the Dow-DuPont merger was March but now the companies hope to complete the process by the end of June.

(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)