UPDATE 1-Bayer's Monsanto acquisition to face politically charged scrutiny
* Bayer agrees $128 per share cash bid to buy Monsanto
* Merger "not a slam dunk"
* Changing political landscape could pose challenge (New throughout, adds comments by three additional lawmakers and Cotton Council)
By Diane Bartz and Greg Roumeliotis
WASHINGTON D.C./NEW YORK, Sept 14 (Reuters) - As the global agricultural sector races to consolidate, Bayer AG's $66 billion all-cash deal to acquire Monsanto Co will test growing political and consumer unease in the United States and abroad over the future of food production.
Bayer's pesticide-focused agricultural business has few overlaps with Monsanto's dominant seed franchise, according to the companies' executives. Still, marrying two of the world's top farm suppliers at a time when rivals are also merging is fueling concern over reduced competition in the $100 billion global market.
Monsanto and Bayer "have chosen to do a deal in the year of merging dangerously," said David Balto, a former policy director at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. "They are in for a tough time."
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has called a hearing next Tuesday to scrutinize the wave of consolidation. Farmers in Iowa, the Republican senator's home state, are worried that seed and chemical costs are rising while grain prices are near their lowest levels in years. Farm incomes have plunged.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who recently ended a run for the Democratic presidential nomination, called the deal "a threat to all Americans." Continued...