The Wall Street Journal: Feds sue to block Deere’s purchase of Monsanto farming-equipment line

The Justice Department on Wednesday filed a lawsuit challenging Deere & Co.’s planned acquisition of a high-tech farming equipment line from Monsanto Co., saying the deal would suppress competition for technology that allows farmers to plant crops at higher speeds.

At issue is a deal from last November in which Deere DE, -1.36%   agreed to buy Monsanto’s MON, -0.87%  Precision Planting equipment business. Precision has been a leader in new technology that allows farmers to plant seeds accurately at up to twice the speed of conventional planting systems, which can increase growing seasons and crop yields. The equipment can be retrofitted on farmers’ current planting machines, and is being installed on new planters built by other companies.

Deere has its own competing high-speed technology which it is installing on its own new planting equipment and selling in retrofit kits.

Deere and Monsanto said they would vigorously fight the lawsuit, calling the Justice Department’s concerns misguided.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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