What is in this article?:
- $750 million settlement offered to U.S. long-grain rice farmers.
- Stems from market fall following 2006 announcement that trace GM traits found in exported U.S. rice.
- Options and settlement set-up explained.
Caps and deadlines
On the $750 million and how it works…
“At the end of the day, if you add up Pot One, Pot Two and Pot Three – after subtracting the Pot Three cap – and it equals more than $750 million, to get back down to that amount … the market loss payout would be reduced from $310 (per acre) to $300, but no more. So, if the settlement threshold of 85 percent is met, all farmers are guaranteed at least $300 in market loss.
“If more reduction is needed … it would come out of Pot Three.
“That’s why I tell a lot of farmers … you need to have a good discussion with your lawyer about your Pot Three claims. There are several uncertainties about going into Pot Three that don’t exist to such an extent for Pot One and Pot Two.”
On the deadline to sign up 85 percent...
“Under the settlement agreement there will be a 90-day period. We believe that will begin (the week of July 4). It’s triggered by the date the claims administrator – and there’s been a firm hired to process all the farmer claims – certify they’re ready, all the computer programs are up and ready to process claims. That starts the 90 days running.
“So, there will be 90 days for the farmers and lawyers to get their documentation together and get it to the claims administrator. The claims submitted during that 90 days will be analyzed and the claims administrator will determine whether the 85 percent threshold has been met.
“Assuming the threshold is met, the settlement calls for about 30 days thereafter that Bayer will pay the first amount of money. That will be the $300 market loss payout.
“It isn’t certain … but we’re doing everything we can to get the payout under the settlement done by the end of this year…
“The Pot Two claims aren’t due for additional 30 days following the initial 90-day period. The Pot Three claims aren’t due for an additional 60 days after the initial 90-day period. So, the Pot Two and Pot Three claims won’t be paid until, probably, 2012.”
On the eligibility of farmers not currently involved in a lawsuit...
“The settlement is open not only for those who filed lawsuits but to every long-grain rice farmer in the country who planted rice from 2006 through 2010.
“Some people may be worried that statute of limitation may have run in some states. Well, as part of the settlement Bayer has agreed to ignore any statute of limitations.”
There have been some questions about an Arkansas Supreme Court hearing regarding a punitive damage cap in the state. That would seem to have a bearing, at least in the cases heard already, on whether those farmers will come into the settlement.
“Some of those cases that went to trial are excluded from the settlement. The people who went to trial will get the money the juries determined they’re entitled to subject to any appeals.
“The case you’re referring to mostly is the case from Lonoke County where there was a $42 million punitive verdict. … The appeal on that case will continue just as it would if there was no settlement. At the end of the day, the Arkansas Supreme Court will likely decide that.”