At a Jackson County (Mo.) Circuit Court on June 15, a jury awarded Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC) and Mid-America Research and Development Foundation (MRDF) a total of $602,945 in its case against AgBorn Genetics for “undisclosed and unreported sales” of MSMC’s soybean seed technologies. The group had also sued for unpaid and bounced royalty checks that were issued by AgBorn Genetics.
MSMC is a farmer-run organization supported by the soybean checkoff paid by Missouri soybean farmers. It is tasked with improving farmer profits through a combination of marketing, research and commercialization.
In 2014, MSMC filed the lawsuit, alleging that AgBorn Genetics struck unenforceable contracts with them. The court ruled these contracts void and confirmed AgBorn Genetics therefore did not have rights to MSMC’s soybean seed technologies. The court additionally sanctioned AgBorn Genetics another $59,167.61 for “abuse of the discover process and its violation of the Court’s Orders.
The unanimous jury decision does not include court costs or interest. Attorney Todd Rowden told the Kansas City Star that after these costs are included, the actual verdict could be nearly $1 million.
MSMC chairman and Lafayette Co. soybean farmer David Lueck says the case was an important one for soybean farmers everywhere, not just those in the Show-Me State.
“We take our responsibility to manage growers’ soybean checkoff dollars very seriously and will continue to take any necessary steps to ensure farmers receive the benefit of their investments in the checkoff,” he says. “There’s no excuse for anything less.”