Nebraska Farmers Consider Joining Syngenta Suits
Doniphan, NE – A lot of law firms are reaching out to corn producers all over the country as the case against Syngenta moves forward in federal court, leaving many landowners and growers with lots of questions.
Omaha attorney Dave Domina says there’s interest from Nebraska farmers about what the pending lawsuits against the ag company means for them. His firm, Domina Law, has been holding informational sessions around the state the past few weeks.
“We’ve had these meetings from Cedar County in the northeast corner of the state to Cambridge in the southwest, and we’ll have some more of them because we keep getting asked to do more of them,” Domina said at a meeting in Doniphan on Sunday.
Domina is talking with farmers and landowners like Julie Bringelson about the suits trade companies like Cargill, and now producers, are bringing against Syngenta after a genetic trait in seeds the company sold caused China to ban US imports starting in late 2013. China gave the corn the okay more than a year later.
“I just figure there’s something I need to learn about this, I didn’t think it was a problem for me because I didn’t think we planted Syngenta,” said Bringelson.
But Domina says this is an “injury to the market” case, so a farmer didn’t have to plant the certain Syngenta trait to have a claim. It’s less about why China rejected the corn, which was because they hadn’t approved the trait for import, and more the fact that they simply did.
“[The suits] don’t complain about GMO corn and they don’t say Syngenta’s products are bad, it’s all about whether a particular corn trait adversely affected the US export market to China and therefore diminished the price,” Domina said.
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Syngenta says the suits are without merit, that the trait with extra resistance to certain pests, known as Viptera of MIR 162, was okayed for growth in the US back in 2010.
Domina says number two yellow corn grown between 2011 and 2014 makes Nebraska farmers eligible, but depending on how the suits are classified, time may be running out for claims on 2011 crops.
“A class action stops the statute of limitations, but right now these are mass actions, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll continue that way, and that requires that a producer do something pretty quickly here to protect himself,” said Domina.
He also says the suits are moving forward, regardless how many farmers join on.
“They want to protect themselves so the statute of limitations doesn’t become a problem, so they can recover if things turn out that there is a recovery, and at the same time, not divert their attention away from their main business, which is growing more corn for this year,” he said.