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Syngenta Settles GMO Corn Lawsuit, Farmers Eligible for Compensation

It looks like there will be some relief for Nebraska farmers, now that Swiss-based seed manufacturer Syngenta AG has agreed to pay American corn farmers $1.51 billion to settle a class action lawsuit. The multi-billion-dollar agribusiness appears to have decided to settle after a Kansas jury awarded that state’s corn farmers $217 million. Class action lawsuits were pending in Minnesota, Illinois, and many other states.

Background of the Syngenta Lawsuits

In 2011, Syngenta introduced two new genetically modified strains of corn seed to the United States: Viptera and Duracade. These strains were attractive to farmers because they were resistant to pests such as earworms, cutworms, armyworms, corn borers, and corn rootworm. However, China, a major market for U.S. corn, had not yet approved these strains. Initially, China accepted shipments of the genetically modified grain. But beginning in 2013, they began turning away all shipments of American corn, because the strains had not been approved and grain elevators and exporters mix grain from multiple suppliers - making it virtually impossible to find corn that didn’t contain the unapproved strains.

China’s refusal of U.S. corn drove the price of corn down for several years, causing financial hardship to American farmers. The National Grain and Feed Association estimates losses caused by the trade disruption were $1 billion to $2.9 billion. The class action lawsuits were based on allegations that Syngenta used faulty marketing to entice corn growers in the U.S. to purchase the new seed.

Who Is Eligible for Compensation?

The $1.51 billion payout (believed to be the largest agricultural settlement in U.S. history) will be divided up between all American corn growers. What percentage of the settlement farmers are eligible for is divided as follows:

  • $1.438 billion (86% of the total) to farmers who didn’t grow Viptera or Duracade (because the price drop also hurt them)
  • $22.6 million to farmers who did grow Viptera or Duracade
  • $29.9 million to grain handlers and grain elevators
  • $19.5 million to ethanol producers

Farmers will be paid per bushel of corn produced each year, for years 2013 through 2017. A rough estimate of the payout is about 14 cents per bushel before attorney fees.

What Do Corn Farmers Need to Do to Get Paid?

Corn farmers should have received a settlement packet in the mail sometime in May 2018. Packets can be submitted online or by mail. If you haven’t received your packet, go to https://www.cornseedsettlement.com/ or call 1 (833) 567-CORN (2676).

If you are in a corn-related industry and have questions about whether you are eligible to be a plaintiff in this class action suit, or if you need help applying for your share of the payout, contact the experienced agricultural lawyer at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. Call our offices for a free consultation at (402) 505-8234.

Bottlinger Law L.L.C. is proud to serve as heartland advocates for farmers in Nebraska and Iowa.

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