Ag Policy Blog

Analysis Considers Possible Syngenta Corn Settlement Payout

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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Although the details are unknown about Syngenta AG's announced corn settlement with farmers in the United States, an Omaha attorney who has followed the case conducted a preliminary analysis published this week to show what the settlement could mean to producers.

Farmers in multiple corn-producing states sued the company following the release of Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade MIR 162 corn traits. Lawsuits claimed Syngenta should have inspected and prevented harvested MIR 162 corn from being shipped to China in 2013 and 2014.

According to a news release from Syngenta, the settlement, which is subject to court approval, would create a settlement fund for the "submission of claims by eligible claimants" who contracted to price corn or corn byproducts after Sept. 15, 2013.

The details of the actual $1.4 billion to $1.5 billion settlement have not been made public.

Donald L. Swanson, attorney with Koley Jessen P.C., LLO based in Omaha, conducted an analysis published on Iowa State University's Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation website this week,….

During a trial held in Kansas, the plaintiffs in that case presented the expert witness reports of two economists who conducted analyses of the potential economic damages inflicted to farmers of Syngenta's actions.

One analysis was completed by Bruce A. Babcock, an economist at Iowa State, and another by Colin A. Carter, a professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis.

Based on their work, Swanson hypothesized that farmers could receive a net of about 2 cents per bushel, for corn priced between 2013 and 2017.

Here's a hypothetical example of how this might work: A farmer grew about 170 bushels per acre on about 1,500 acres of corn per year for five years. That producer churned out about 1.275 million bushels. At about 2 cents per bushel, the hypothetical farmer would be due about $25,500 as part of the settlement.

"Nearly all U.S. corn farmers are, apparently, included in the settlement," Swanson writes.

"It doesn't make any difference whether the farmer has hired an attorney, is involved in a lawsuit, or has taken any action whatsoever."

Swanson said there may be some "limited exceptions" to the final settlement.

"What the limitations might be are currently unknown," he writes.

"For example, farmers who planted Duracade or Viptera seed are excluded from the Kansas class designations, but whether they are also excluded from the settlement remains to be seen."

Because the details of the settlement have not been made public, Swanson said the cents per bushel could be different. The company announced the signed settlement documents will be filed later in 2017.

Once details of the settlement are announced, he said each farmer will be required to present their claim for distribution from settlement funds.

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