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Palmer, Bandt and Wilkie fight to keep GrainC -

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The US agricultural giant, Archer Daniels Midland, is facing more resistance to its takeover bid for GrainCorp, with Clive Palmer joining three other crossbench MPs to try to scuttle the $3 billiondeal.

Mr Palmer, Andrew Wilkie and Adam Bandt want GrainCorp to stay in Australian hands.

And in the US, farming groups are querying the high level of lobbying ADM is doing in Geneva at the World Trade Organisation and what that might mean for Australia.

North America correspondent Lisa Millar reports from central Illinois.

JIM REED: Howdy.

MAN: Jim.

JIM REED: What are the markets doing today?

LISA MILLAR: The Farmers' Grain Cooperative in DeLand is one of the smallest in Illinois. The town itself has a population of just over 400.

JIM REED: Well I've lived here all my life. My dad's side of the family, we're about six generations here in this town.

LISA MILLAR: Jim Reed is the co-op's president and he's proud the business has stayed profitable. It takes in mostly corn and soy beans from farmers, stores it in the silos, and sells it to one of the big agricultural companies. More often than not it's Archer Daniels Midland

JIM REED: It's always a give and take. You always want more price for your grain. They always want to buy it for less so they can merchandise it better.

LISA MILLAR: Can you understand why people in Australia are feeling a little anxious about this big American company coming in to take over the last big agricultural company in Australia?

JIM REED: Yeah I mean we've had similar concerns here in this country when foreign ownership has come in to buy up major companies or major infrastructure components here. So we can associate with that. But based on our dealings with ADM, we've had basically positive experiences.

LISA MILLAR: ADM's reputation took a beating in the 1990s.

(Excerpt from 'The Informant'):

MARK WHITACRE: What I'm about tell you involves something very large.

BRIAN SHEPARD: Everyone in this country is a victim of corporate crime by the time they finish breakfast.

MAN: Yes.

(End of excerpt)

LISA MILLAR: First there was a book, then a movie about the executives in the company who were found guilty of price fixing. They went to jail and the company faced fines in excess of $100 million.

Professor Scott Irwin from the University of Illinois is an expert on agriculture markets.

SCOTT IRWIN: Most people are aware of the chequered past. I think that they have worked very hard at trying to step away from that chequered history. And they've had new management at the top.

LISA MILLAR: He says the ADM/GrainCorp deal could open up new markets for growers. But he says Australians have to be realistic.

SCOTT IRWIN: Their legal liability is first to their shareholders, no-one should be surprised by that. Hopefully what you see is that there's a overlap between the interests of ADM shareholders and the interests of Australians in general and Australian farmers. That's the sweet spot that you would hope the deal hits.

LISA MILLAR: The National Farmers Union in the US doesn't see a sweet spot in the deal and says if it was in Australia it would oppose it.

The organisation's vice president of government relations, Chandler Goule, is watching what big companies like ADM are doing at the World Trade Organization.

He says ADM has more than 180 employees in Geneva lobbying for more liberalised free trade policies which remove safety nets for those on the land.

CHANDLER GOULE: Because if they can strip away those abilities for a country to help their farmers, if you and I are both farmers, we've both had five years of bad prices and we're both going out of business and the government was never here and able to help us stay on the land because the WTO has stripped that away, which is what ADM and Cargill work for, again you're going to be back in the situation of it's only the large companies that can afford to come in and buy your farmland and continue vertical integration in your country.

LISA MILLAR: Scott Irwin hopes this question was asked in Australia.

SCOTT IRWIN: Should it be sold all in one block or is there a way to potentially sell it off in pieces to both maximize the value of the sale and potentially create more competitive conditions internally within Australian grain markets.

LISA MILLAR: In the US there's little doubt Australia is uniquely positioned to take advantage of what's expected to be a stunning growth in demand from Asia.

How best to do that continues to be hotly debated.

This is Lisa Millar in Decatur, Illinois for The World Today.