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Monsanto to cut 2,600 jobs in restructuring

Monsanto Co., buffeted by a slumping global farm economy, outlined plans to slash 12% of its workforce and restructure its business as it reported a larger quarterly loss.

The biotech-seed maker said it planned to cut 2,600 jobs while "streamlining and reprioritizing" commercial and research efforts as it grapples with declining crop prices that have pinched incomes for farmers, its main customers. Monsanto projected earnings in its fiscal 2016 that fell below analysts' expectations.

The St. Louis company also Wednesday unveiled a new stock-buyback program totaling $3 billion, which it plans to complete within the next six months.

Monsanto shares were down 0.48% at $87.12 in midday trading. The stock has declined 26% this year.

"When you narrow the lens to the next 12 months, the industry continues to face a challenging macro environment and we've moderated our outlook, " said Hugh Grant, Monsanto's chief executive, said on a post-earnings conference call.

Seed companies such as Monsanto, alongside suppliers of fertilizer and farm machinery, face a third straight year of sagging prices for corn, soybeans and wheat that have forced belt-tightening across major agricultural regions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in August projected that net U.S. farm income would decline 36% this year to the lowest level in nine years.