Donald Trump’s pick of Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney General could help solidify Bayer AG’s $66 billion purchase of Monsanto, which is currently undergoing state and federal antitrust investigations.
Bayer agreed to acquire Monsanto for the whopping sum in September after months of bickering. The merger would give Bayer 1/4 of the world market for seeds and pesticides, resulting in less industry competition, higher seed prices, and eventually higher food prices. Several U.S. state attorneys have joined a federal antitrust investigation into the merger.
There had been growing skepticism that the deal would actually close, since both companies’ stocks had been trading lower since the acquisition was announced. However, since Trump’s election November 8, Monsanto shares have risen more than 4%.
Some experts fear that with Sessions as U.S. Attorney General, the heavy scrutiny seen under the Obama administration could lighten up. 
Evercore ISI’s Head of Political Analysis Terry Haines wrote November 19:
“Sessions’ likely nomination and confirmation by the Senate, in which he has served since 1997, is a market positive for merger and acquisition activity. Sessions as attorney general would shift immediately from the current mostly ‘red light’ Obama antitrust/competition policy and move towards one that would be friendlier to M&A activity.”
As attorney general, Sessions would not only lead the Justice Department, he would also be tasked with enforcing antitrust laws and prosecuting white-collar crimes, among other things. According to Haines, Sessions won’t automatically associate larger companies with less market competition. Sessions may decide, “that no reflexive test for the disapproval of a merger should be applied, as Obama regulators did with their ‘no 4 into 3’ doctrine.”
Some legal experts have said, however, that as U.S. attorney general, Sessions would be tough on corporate crime. Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor and Columbia Law School professor, told Reuters that the senator will be “a strong supporter” of corporate enforcement. 
Only time will tell.
Other Reasons for Concern
- President-elect Trump has chosen U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo to be CIA director, a man whom Carey Gillam of U.S. Right to Know calls “a designated hitter for Monsanto and the other Big Ag chemical and seed players. 
- Trump holds between $15,000 and $50,000 worth of Monsanto stock and does not support GMO labeling. When asked by the Iowa Farm Bureau, “Do you support the use of biotechnology in food products and oppose efforts to require mandatory labeling for foods simply because they contain ingredients derived from biotechnology?” Trump allegedly responded, “Yes.”
- During Trump’s presidential campaign, he assembled an agribusiness-friendly agriculture advisory council.
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.