Pioneer layoffs not expected to affect hybrid seed supply

Associate Editor

(Jan. 12, 2016) Heavy layoffs announced last month at DuPont in Delaware are unlikely to affect the continued tailoring of its Pioneer-brand hybrid seed varieties for Delmarva farmers, a company spokesperson said last week.
Iowa-headquartered Pioneer is completely exiting research and development facilities in Delaware, said Jane Slusark, a company spokesperson.
But much of the research Pioneer did at Stine Haskell in Newark and DuPont’s Experimental Station in Wilmington dealt with new products in the very early stages of development, not tailoring products for different environments and maturities, she said.
Most of that work for the Delmarva region is done from a research facility in New Holland, Pa., Slusark said. Pioneer also works out of several satellite research locations along the Delmarva Peninsula.
“We’re still committed to having the local testing and breeding operations,” she said.
About 1,700 positions are being eliminated across DuPont in Delaware, part of a massive restructuring designed to save the company $700 million.
The plan was released early last month, shortly before it also announced a $130 billion blockbuster merger with The Dow Chemical Co. Layoffs began at the company’s 10 Delaware facilities Jan. 4.
DuPont employed more than 6,000 workers across the state.
Work has also stopped on a $35 million soybean research center at Stine Haskell for Pioneer. It was expected to open this year.
Once the merger is complete, the company would split into three independent, publicly traded firms: an agriculture company, a material science company and a specialty products company headquartered in Delaware.
The agriculture company would combine Dow and DuPont’s seed and crop protection businesses.
“The announcement made (Dec. 29) that Dow-DuPont’s Specialty Products division will remain in Delaware comes as a small but welcome break in the clouds,” Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said in a statement. “The fight, however, isn’t over. It’s also absolutely critical that the agriculture business is headquartered here in our state, and the congressional delegation will work alongside Governor Markell, the Delaware legislature, and business and community leaders to do our part to ensure it is.”