For Neil Harl, distinguished professor emeritus in agriculture and economics at Iowa State University, a request to appear at a hearing March 12 in Ankeny on antitrust issues in the seed industry was compelling enough to lure him back from his winter retreat in Hawaii.
“It was tempting to stay away,” Harl said from Hawaii Tuesday after the announcement that he would appear on a panel at the day-long session that will examine competition in the seed industry. “But for years I have urged the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to be more aggressive about competitive issues in agriculture.”
“Now,” Harl continued, “we apparently have an administration that is willing to be more aggressive about these issues and I felt that I couldn’t turn down their request.”
The controversy over competition in the seed business exploded into the open last summer with acrimony and lawsuits between Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred, attracting the attentions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Justice Department.