The judge instead set a trial date of Sept. 9 to begin hearing evidence in the lawsuit brought after soybean futures fell more than $2 a bushel when an Italian grain trading firm reportedly tried to corner the soybean market.

“It’s a classic David and Goliath story of modern times,” said Harvey Joe Sanner, one of the named plaintiffs who brought action against the CBOT in 1989. “The Biblical David was luckier than soybean farmers because Goliath was dumber and easier to bring to justice than the CBOT.”

The suit charges that the CBOT conspired to manipulate the soybean market in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

“The saga began on July 11, 1989 when the CBOT issued their infamous Emergency Resolution that sent soybean prices plummeting and farmers into shock,” said Sanner, president of the American Agriculture Movement at the time.

A drought in 1988 had reduced stocks and farmers were expecting higher market prices for their 1989 production, he noted. That optimism evaporated when the CBOT publicly mandated that large contracts to purchase soybeans be liquidated, thereby forcing buyers from the market and creating a windfall for the short sellers.

Since 1989, the CBOT has fought to try to bring an end to the lawsuit.

“The evidence amassed during the discovery process is damning to the CBOT’s 1989 action,” said Sanner. “I guess that explains why they fought so hard to suppress it.”

Sanner said the plaintiffs claim the CBOT engaged in a massive public relations campaign to try and convince farm organizations, congressional committees and regulatory agencies that they were not guilty of market manipulation.

“Now a jury will decide what is truth and what is fiction,” he said. “Thirteen years is a long time, but we are grateful to the judge and our attorneys for the opportunity to finally tell our story and let the evidence speak for itself.”

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com