Big Ag salary guide: Dow, Monsanto, ADM lead the way

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Photo illustration by Darrell Hoemann/

Executives and board members at eight of the world’s largest agribusiness companies have received millions of dollars in compensation as their companies record billions in profits.

Over the past three years, these companies have on average paid their executives and directors more than $100 million, according to a Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting review of financial filings. The median was $94.5 million.

The companies have averaged a net income of $8.2 billion over the three-year period. The median net income was $7.2 billion.

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting reviewed regulatory filings and annual reports of eight of the world’s largest agribusiness companies between 2014 and 2016. The companies included in the analysis were American companies Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Dow Chemical, DuPont Pioneer, Monsanto, German companies BASF and Bayer and Swiss company Syngenta. Private companies, such as Cargill and Louis Dreyfus, are not included because they do not have to release executive compensation information.

Overall, the eight companies have paid $809 million in executive and director compensation and made $65.6 billion in net income over the three-year period.

German chemical company BASF recorded the highest profits at $14.9 billion, but had no executives in the top five highest compensated.

Dow Chemical made $14.8 billion in net income and compensated CEO Andrew Liveris  with $71.8 million combined between 2014 through 2016, the highest amount paid.

That total almost doubled that of the second highest compensated in the review – Monsanto Board Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant, who was paid $37.2 million in the same time period.

Former Archer Daniels Midland CEO and Chairwoman Patricia A. Woertz was paid $36.8 million in the company’s 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, despite retiring at the end of 2014.

Her successor, Juan R. Luciano, was paid the fourth most during the three-year period, collecting $32.6 million.

Bunge CEO Soren Schroder rounded out the top five, making $32.1 million over the three-year period.

In 2016, the average CEO of a Fortune 500 company made $11 million. The chief executives at six companies – ADM, Bayer, Bunge, Dow, DuPont and Monsanto – made more than that average, with Liveris more than doubling it at $23 million.

Among the top five executives at each of the companies, the average compensation was $5.8 million, while the median compensation was $4.0 million.

Among the board of directors, the average compensation was about $326,000, while the median compensation was $262,000.

The projected median income for farm households in 2017 is -$1,093, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Midwest Center compiled a database that includes the total compensation, broken down by category for each of the past three years for executives and members of the board of directors for these companies.

For U.S. companies, the compensation is taken from the annual proxy statement from the Securities and Exchange Commission. For international companies, the compensation is taken from their own executive compensation reports and adjusted to American dollars.

Search the table below to see compensation for top executives, including board of directors.

For a full breakdown of total compensation, including stock options, bonuses and other compensation, please visit our data store at Buy now

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