Syngenta Offers Settlement for MIR 162 Corn
Syngenta will likely pay $1.4 billion in settlement costs for unapproved corn traits making it to China, according to Bloomberg. The settlement covers a Minnesota class action as well as several other lawsuits across the U.S.
“We can confirm the existence of a preliminary settlement framework subject to further negotiations, including negotiations regarding the terms of the settlement,” say plaintiff attorneys in a statement. “We are hopeful that we can reach a final agreement with Syngenta that we can recommend to the court over the next several weeks.”
Farmers who contracted to price corn or corn byproducts after Sept. 15, 2013, could be eligible for terms of the settlement. The settlement does not include Canada, and the number of eligible farmers has not yet been decided.
“Information concerning these and other details will become available after the parties execute and submit the proposed settlement agreement and other papers to court later this year,” says Paul Minehart, spokesperson for Syngenta. The settlement is still subject to court approval, which would establish a settlement fund where farmers can submit claims.
The settlement stems from several class action complaints filed by farmers in a number of states. The plaintiffs claim Syngenta was negligent in releasing MIR 162 (Agrisure Viptera) corn prior to Chinese approval. When China discovered the then-illegal product on barges, their rejection led to depressed corn prices, resulting in financial loss plaintiffs are now asking Syngenta to cover. Recently, a judge ruled in favor of farmers in Kansas for $217 million, though this class action lawsuit could be included in the larger settlement.
With any settlement, though, don’t expect a check soon.
“Six months is an optimistic guess—it could be longer,” says Paul Goeringer, ag and food law legal specialist at the University of Maryland. “It’ll take a few months to figure out who is in the class. If they vote to approve the settlement, it will take a couple weeks for the judge to approve and then more time to set up the distri-bution process.”
Goeringer says right now it’s not certain how the funds will be distributed, but it will likely require farmers to show business records to prove how many bushels they produced in the relevant production years.
“The settlement will cover all existing claims,” Goeringer says. Those who haven’t received class certification will not be included, he adds, and more information about what states that includes will be available when settlement details are public. He did note Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota are all certified as a class, and Minnesota and Texas have separate class action lawsuits.
“In the end, Syngenta likely decided continuing to litigate this was probably not going to be productive for them and likely made this decision based on the Kansas ruling,” Goeringer says.
FMC Closes the Deal on DuPont Assets
After receiving final antitrust approval from the Competition Commission of India, FMC has the all-clear to acquire a portion of DuPont’s crop protection business. India marked the final country needed to close the deal.
“We’re on track to close our transactions with DuPont on Nov. 1, 2017,” says Pierre Brodeau, FMC president, CEO and chairman. The company first announced the deal for the crop protection assets at the end of March.
The deal comes as a condition of the DowDuPont merger as required by the European Commission. The specific assets from FMC’s acquisition include an insecticide portfolio with Rynaxypyr, Cyazypyr and Indoxacarb; a herbicide portfolio with nine active ingredients and multiple formulated products for the cereal broadleaf herbicide market, including DuPont’s PrecisionPac technology; and the global manufacturing network that supports these products, which includes four active ingredient manufacturing facilities and 10 regional formulation plants.
Dow Enlist E3 and New 2,4-D Product Available
Farmers will be able to plant Enlist E3 soybeans in select areas in 2018 and have the option to use Enlist Duo or the new Enlist One herbicide for over-the-top use.
Enlist E3 soybeans can be planted in select areas because of a partnership between Dow AgroSciences and ADM. The 2,4-D choline, glyphosate and glufosinate tolerant soybeans need to be planted in an area that can deliver to one of four ADM plants: Mankato, Minn.; Frankfort, Ind.; Mexico, Mo.; or Deerfield, Mo.
“We’ve put a lot of thought into the best way to manage the process,” says Joe Vertin, Dow AgroSciences Enlist global leader. More details about the program are available through seed companies. Dow AgroSciences continues to pursue import approvals for Enlist E3 soybeans in China and the European Union.
Enlist One is a straight-goods 2,4-D choline product with Colex-D technology. It allows farmers and applicators to tank-mix glufosinate and other approved products. This product provides a different option than the Enlist Duo herbicide, which is a premix of 2,4-D choline and glyphosate.
Enlist One allows farmers to control broadleaf weeds with the 2,4-D, group 4 herbicide and mix in other approved herbicides to target specific weeds in each field.
States Take Action Against In-Season Dicamba Use
Indiana and Arkansas farmers could be facing more stringent restrictions on dicamba in 2018. Both states proposed new limitations on the product.
The Indiana Pesticide Review Board voted Aug. 30 to place all agricultural-use dicamba products under restricted use. If the rule passes a couple more steps, only certified applicators will be able to apply dicamba.
Currently, the rule is being reviewed by the attorney general’s office. If the attorney general approves the rule it will be submitted to the governor and then the Legislative Services Agency will choose the date the rule is published, listing it as the final rule.
The proposed rule would restrict “any dicamba-containing pesticide product that (A) contains a dicamba active ingredient concentration greater than or equal to 6% and 6.5% and (B) is intended for agricultural production uses but does not also contain 2,4-D as an active ingredient; or is not labeled solely for use on turf or other non-agricultural use sites.”
Arkansas farmers might not have access to dicamba products for in-season use in row crops next year if a proposed state ban passes a few more steps.
The ban would stop farmers from using any kind of dicamba product, including new formulations such as XtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan, for in-season use in soybeans and cotton. However, pastures, rangeland, turf, ornamental, some forestry and home applicator uses will be exempt from the rule.
The ban would stretch from April 16 to Oct. 31. A sizeable group of farmers and Monsanto recently submitted separate petitions opposing this ban, but the Arkansas Plant Board unanimously denied Monsanto’s petition.
The proposed ban is currently undergoing a 30-day public comment period to be followed by a public hearing on Nov. 8. After the public comment and hearing period, the proposed rule will move on to the executive subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council for final approval.