Price-fixing for pesticides: agricultural cartel against farmers

large cooperatives have to set high prices for pesticides by. Paid by, of all things, the farmers, to which these companies belong. How much has he paid for?

Price-fixing for pesticides: agricultural cartel against farmers

large cooperatives have to set high prices for pesticides by. Paid by, of all things, the farmers, to which these companies belong.

How much has he paid for? A farmer sprayed arable poison on a potato field photo: Thoams Warnack/dpa

BERLIN taz | Large agricultural cooperatives have formed a cartel against their own capitalists and farmers excessive prices for pesticides collected. Because of illegal price-fixing agreements by the Federal cartel office, visit us and discover now fines in the amount of almost EUR 155 million against seven plant protection products-wholesalers and their Managers. "Our investigations have shown that the lists of companies since the year 1998 up to the date of our searches in March 2015, in the spring and fall their price for plant protection products with each other have voted," said cartel office President Andreas Mundt on Monday. This was largely uniform price lists for retailers and end customers in its Wake.

is Especially piquant in the case, that mainly enterprises from the cooperative sector are concerned, above all, Germany's biggest agricultural traders, Raiffeisen. He is for the most part subsidiaries of cooperatives whose members are farmers. This is also true for the competitors Agravis Raiffeisen. This company had already announced to have a fine the competition authorities in the amount of almost EUR 44 million accepted.

BayWa accepted a fine in the amount of almost EUR 69 million. BayWa said, "that customers have had in connection with this procedure, no economic damage." But the goal of the cartels is that customers – in this case farmers – higher prices than under proper conditions.

"The merchants have enriched themselves at the expense of the farmers," said Ulrich Jasper, Federal managing Director of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft, the taz. "This should let the farmers themselves don't like." His Association considering whether to work with a law firm that could submit claims for damages for farmers.

cooperatives are often considered to be a more social and democratic form of enterprise, because each shareholder decisions are only allowed to have a voice. However, the current case shows Jasper, according to: "Large cooperatives operate like regular businesses. The track is not the economic interests of the peasants, but their own as a company,“ says the activist. "In the case of local cooperatives, this is still different." But if the companies are so large that employees Enjoyed and had regular personal contact, "independent of the individual's economic interests".

This is a Problem that Jasper sees also in the case of large dairies. Industry leader in the Deutsche milchkontor, which belongs, ultimately, farmers. Nevertheless, the company pays to its farmers regularly one of the lowest prices for raw milk, so that the courtyards are not able to cover their costs. The Federal cartel office found in a study that dairy co-operatives expressed their members in the price is at least as hard as competitors with other forms of enterprise.

In the proceedings of the pesticide cartel further fines against the company Agro agricultural were well wholesale, BSL resources Service logistics, cereal AG, Raiffeisen Waren GmbH, Kassel, and the ZG Raiffeisen eg, Karlsruhe, pronounced. The Beiselen GmbH benefited from the leniency notice. She was issued the fine. Against two other companies will be determined, reported to the authority.

In the early days of the cartel, the companies met according to the investigations by the cartel office several times a year to agree on list prices. In the later years, the voting was done mostly in writing and by telephone. The four leading wholesalers in the market would have taken the Pre-tuning of the calculation. The searches of the Federal cartel office in March 2015, the cartel would be illegal practices stopped.

The fines are not yet final. The affected companies and their managers can Lodge an appeal at the higher regional court of Düsseldorf. The largest companies have already taken publicly against it. Six have already confessed, according to the Department. The ZG Raiffeisen, announced against, appeal, "because it represents a different legal opinion than the Federal cartel office." (with dpa)

Date Of Update: 13 January 2020, 16:00

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