DuPont, the Delaware-based chemical and agricultural products company, is massively important to its home state’s economy. In size and importance, DuPont plays a role in Delaware similar to the one played by Boeing in Washington. Yet DuPont has recently undergone a dramatic transformation that could have severe consequences for consumers, its employees, farmers and businesses that depend on its products, and the state that it has called home for 216 years.
Almost a year ago this month, DuPont merged with the Dow Chemical Company to create DowDuPont, the world’s largest chemical company in terms of sales. This merger occurred amid a massive wave of consolidation in the agricultural sector. The merger of Dow and Dupont, coupled with the concurrent mergers of Bayer-Monsanto and ChemChina-Syngenta, will limit the major players in the agrichemical and seed sectors to just four companies. In fact, two companies — Monsanto-Bayer and DowDuPont — will soon control about three-quarters of the U.S. corn seed market.
Consolidation often leads to layoffs. After Kraft and Heinz merged in 2015, they announced that the combined company would cut 2,500 jobs. AT&T and Time Warner completed their merger in June, and the new company plans to eliminate14,600 jobs over the next three years. It is not unreasonable to expect a similar outcome in Delaware.
Yet despite the potential for disruption in Delaware, the state’s senior U.S. senator, Tom Carper, has not opposed the merger. In a February 2016 op-ed in The Wilmington News Journal before the merger closed, Carper acknowledged that it “brings with it real adversity for a lot of people” and that it will likely lead to layoffs that are “painful for the DuPont workers and their families.” Nevertheless, he pointedly refused to oppose the merger, instead calling it an “important first step in [a] journey.” He has since failed to take any action to prevent the merger from moving forward…