Agri Shares Plunge

Shares in agri-businesses around the world slumped Thursday as the credit crisis buffeting U.S. financial markets may limit next year's corn, wheat and soybean planting if farmers face difficulty getting loans to buy seeds and fertilizer, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said.

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, the world's largest producer of its namesake crop nutrient, fell 26 percent on the Toronto Stock Exchange, the most since it sold shares to the public in November 1989. Syngenta, the biggest maker of agricultural chemicals, fell 9.5 percent, the most in almost 8 years, to close at 206.1 francs.

Mosaic fell 41 percent, the most in four years, in New York and Israel Chemicals Ltd., the world's third-largest maker of potash, fell 14 percent to 44.25 shekels, the biggest drop since at least January 1995.

K+S AG, Europe's largest producer of potash used in fertilizers, was down 12 percent and Yara International ASA, the world's largest fertilizer producer, lost 16 percent in Oslo.

Shares of Bunge Ltd., the biggest seller of fertilizer in South America, fell $12.84, or 20 percent, to $50.16 in New York. The decline was the biggest since trading in shares of White Plains, New York-based Bunge began in August 2001.

Monsanto dropped $15.83, or 16 percent, to $82.01 in New York trading, the biggest drop since the St. Louis-based company's initial share offering in October 2000.