First Settlement Checks Go to June

Farmers, Others Receive More Than $400 Million in Syngenta Settlement Payments

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
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The first round of Syngenta settlement checks will continue to be sent out until June 1. (DTN file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Farmers who have yet to receive a first-round payment from the $1.5 billion Syngenta corn seed settlement may yet see a check come in the mail.

On March 20, 2020, the claims administrator in the Syngenta corn class action lawsuit began sending payments to class members.

According to an update on the corn seed settlement website,…, the administrator had issued 119,202 interim payment checks to class members as of April 13, 2020, totaling more than $412 million.

"The claims administrator is issuing interim payments on a rolling basis to claims that satisfy the requirements for interim payments," according to a message on the website.

"No interim payments will be issued after June 1, 2020. We expect to make final payments in fall 2020. Please do not contact the court, Syngenta, or Syngenta's counsel regarding payment timing."

The website said class members cannot receive payments until they have submitted W-9 forms.

A majority of farmers can expect total payments exceeding $5,000, according to a news release from Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP based in Kansas City, Missouri.

On Feb. 28, 2020, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in Kansas City approved interim payments to eligible corn growers, grain-handling facilities and ethanol plants.

The court previously approved the $1.51 billion settlement from a lawsuit filed following Syngenta's release of Agrisure Viptera (MIR162) and Agrisure Duracade corn traits.

Class members receiving payments include producers and landlords who are expected to receive about 65% of their estimated total settlement amount, and grain-handling facilities and ethanol plants that will receive about 50% of their estimated total settlement amount.

According to the law firm, the remaining money of each class settlement amount is expected to be paid in the fall of 2020 when all claims are expected to be processed.

Syngenta spokesperson Paul Minehart previously told DTN that Syngenta plays no role in the distribution of settlement funds, as the company already has contributed $1.51 billion.

According to the settlement, there are four subclasses approved as eligible for payments.

First, are farmers who owned any interest in corn in the United States but did not plant the Syngenta seeds in question. A second subclass includes any producer who owned any interest in corn in the U.S. priced for sale, purchased Agrisure Viptera and/or Agrisure Duracade corn seed, and produced corn grown from those traits.

The settlement also includes any grain-handling facility and ethanol plants that owned interest in corn priced for sale during the period.

The court said the first class will receive at least $1.44 billion. Most of that money will go to corn growers and landlords who did not grow Duracade or Viptera corn seeds. Payouts in the second class are limited to $22.6 million, $29.9 million for the third class and $19.5 million for the fourth class.

Plaintiffs in the cases allege Syngenta sold corn with Agrisure Viptera and Duracade traits prior to the traits receiving import approvals in several countries, including China. China claims it found and rejected corn shipments containing the traits, which plaintiffs said led to lower corn prices.

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Todd Neeley

Todd Neeley
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