NEW YORK — Syngenta has agreed to pay $1.4 to $1.5 Billion to reimburse corn growers who sold corn for market their rightful profits. The final details are being negotiated by the Syngenta for presentation to the Judge in Minnesota on October 20th. Farmers are on the clock to file their suits and (later) get in their claim forms. They need to act swiftly.
Syngenta brought this huge settlement on itself. It involves arrogance and disregard for its US customers. Basically it released a GMO corn into the general corn supply knowing it did not have import approvals that were needed. With a general release Syngenta’s corn end up mixed together with every one else’s corn and sold for both domestic consumption and export.
Farmers know that foreign sales are important. In lean years foreign demand pushes prices up. In bumper years foreign demand stabilizes prices. And Syngenta knew that farmers knew! It told the farmers that approval of Viptura in China – the third largest US customer – was “imminent”. Two gain elevator operators actually suspected this “imminent” stuff could be a problem and refused to take Viptura. Syngenta sued them to take it and lost. Nevertheless, Syngenta continued to sell Viptura into the general market and reassure farmers about its product.
It took two years but in 2013 China found Viptura mixed in with corn that was being offloaded in its ports. China, like everyone else, does random testing. Its reaction was just about as one would expect. It stopped off loading the contaminated corn from the ships in it ports. It turned the ships at sea with contaminated corn around. And it cancelled US contracts and it started buying corn from countries that were not tying to sell it contaminated corn. This artificial disruption in supply and demand that year contributed to a huge drop in the price of corn. The US market has not turned around.
Commodity Analysts, Economists, Lawyers, and Courts have spent years on this on this case and this settlement is the result. The deadline for farmers to file their suits is being negotiated as I write. We are hoping that contracts signed by October 20th will qualify. Syngenta will want short cut off dates. If we get more time, it will be announced on www.syngentaNYcornlitigation.com. That said, every day a farmer waits now is additionally risky.
We are holding an informational meeting for farmers at Veterans Hall (a.k.a. VFW) 5480 East Avon Rd., Avon NY 14414, Tel. 585-226-2750 from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.. It’s on US 20 just west of the intersection of US 20 and State Road 15. If there is time thereafter, we hope to hold more very short meetings.
We have clients from Westfield to the North County, Ransomville to Suffolk but as far as we can tell there are a large number of farmers who have either been fence sitting or did not believe that a farm supplier would risk this. A few years later Syngenta released Duricade without all approvals but made sure it did not get mixed into the general supply. But by then it was too late and China didn’t care.
We have set up a dedicated website to keep everyone up to date due. www.syngentaNYcornlitigation.com The “Settlement Terms” page will have the latest confirmed information. New York Farmers need to know that even though we do not know the deadline(s); they have nothing to lose now to try to beat any deadlines to claim their share of what they lost. And as for what farmers need later, I have already been in touch with many FSAs and crop insurers across the state to get them prepared and ease what should not be a burdensome process.
Personally I started advertising and traveling the state to do dinners and seminars right after the New York Class action was dismissed for technical reasons. The out of state attorneys involved in that class action never bothered to follow up and let New York Farmers know they were no longer protected – that they had to file individual suits. Many know this now but we are still pushing through to the end do everything we can think of to help. Weather hurting Famers profits is one thing, its bad enough. What Syngenta did is not excusable.
Conrad F. Cropsey 109 N. Main
Albion, NY 14411
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