In what may be the largest agricultural litigation settlement ever, Syngenta agreed to pay $1.5 Billion in a lawsuit involving tens of thousands of farmers, crop share landlords, grain facilities, and ethanol plants in the U.S.
Plaintiffs sued the Swiss agribusiness giant, Syngenta, in relation to genetically modified corn seed. Syngenta introduced the modified seeds to the U.S. market before ever having approval for import to China, leaving many farmers stuck with a product they couldn’t sell, affecting future crops, and dropping the price in the Chinese corn market for years.
While corn growers across the country are reveling in this victory, it will be quite a while before any funds are ever distributed. A committee comprised of both plaintiffs’ attorneys and Syngenta must first determine classes of settlement categories. A federal judge in Kansas will then hold what is known as a “fairness hearing” to approve those categories. Of course, there is no timeline for when that may happen as this process is open to appeals and has no deadline. So, it unfortunately could take more than a year to resolve and funds to start being disbursed, though we are hopeful it will be sooner. How much will each corn producer receive? That is complicated and depends on several variables, including how many claims are filed, how many acres affected, estimated losses, and last but not least those categories negotiated by the committee.
So, while it is good news for plaintiffs, patience is requested as the process continues.