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Agricultural Giants Look to Join Forces

Some of the world’s largest agricultural companies are looking to combine with one another as three years of shriveling crop prices have pressured profits, in what would be the industry’s first big shake-up in at least a decade.

Syngenta AG SYT 7.30 % is discussing with DuPont Co. DD 0.85 % a potential combination with DuPont’s agriculture division, according to people familiar with the matter. DuPont is also separately discussing a potential alternative agriculture deal with Dow Chemical Co. DOW 0.45 % , which is exploring a sale of its seed and pesticide unit, another person familiar with the matter said.

The discussions are at an early stage and may result in no deal, the people said.

But the deal talk has clearly gathered steam since Monsanto Co. MON -0.97 % in August abandoned its effort to acquire Syngenta for as much as $46 billion after being rebuffed by the Swiss company. That deal would have created the world’s largest supplier of seeds and pesticides, but Monsanto now could face the threat of much-enlarged competitors if its rivals end up combining and it strikes no combination of its own, analysts say.

Executives have publicly signaled their interest in consolidating, without being specific. Edward Breen, who became DuPont Co.’s interim chief executive on Oct. 16 following the departure of Ellen Kullman, said last week he has been discussing deals with his counterparts.

“Everyone is talking to everyone,” said Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris on a conference call last month, when his company announced it is exploring deal possibilities for its agriculture division.

U.S. farm income is on pace to hit its lowest level in nearly a decade, pressuring profits in the global market for genetically modified seeds and...