The large seed company Ferry Morse was recently sold and almost half of the employees were immediately laid off with a 60 day lump-sum severance pay. Seed Holdings, Inc. purchased the home and garden division of Jiffy International, who owned Ferry Morse previously. Seed Holdings also owns the NK (Northrup King) seed brand seen in big box stores and mass merchants nationwide. There was no notice to the two plants that were affected in Kentucky and Oregon. The plant in Kentucky has been in operation since 1959 and the one in Oregon since 2009. Some of the employees in Kentucky had worked for Ferry Morse for over 30 years.
Even though Ferry Morse was not an independent seed company, this further consolidation will not bode well for the customer, as the future offerings will be dictated almost entirely upon the basis of profitability for the company and shareholders. In a press release the expectation was expressed of “significant synergies, including optimized logistic solutions and exciting product development.” They further stated that this acquisition will give the home gardener the same high-quality products as used by most industrial growers. Synergies, logistics and products are profit centers. They are not new varieties of seed – bred for positive traits needed by gardeners – but more than likely new chemicals that will increase the profits of the new parent company. When any industry sees the extreme consolidation that the seed industry has, it follows what Americans have seen with the auto industry – when very few companies have complete control over the choices available for a product, and the quality usually suffers and the prices usually rise.