Most food, if we trace it back far enough, began as a seed. And the business of supplying those seeds to farmers has been transformed over the past half-century. Small-town companies have given way to global giants.
A new round of industry consolidation is now underway. Multibillion-dollar mergers are in progress, or under discussion, that could put more than half of global seed sales in the hands of three companies.
For three years, Mary Lou Wesselhoeft, a 61-year-old Florida Panhandle dairy farmer, had been selling milk at nearby farmers markets and health food stores in an effort to keep her dairy farm afloat. The last thing she was trying to do was to dupe customers who went out of their way to score a cold bottle of her Ocheesee Creamery pasteurized skim milk.
But Florida authorities saw it differently.