Source: Peggy Kirk Hall, Associate Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law
Those post cards advising producers of a $1.51 billion settlement in the Syngenta corn seed lawsuits are legitimate, and corn producers seeking compensation from thesettlement must file claims by 11:59 p.m. on October 12, 2018. The settlement is the result of class action and individual lawsuits alleging that Syngenta failed to receive import approval from China before selling its genetically modified Viptera and Duracade seeds in the United States, which led to the rejection of U.S. corn shipments and a lowering of corn prices from 2013 to 2018.
Who can file a claim?
Three types of claimants that were involved in the U.S. corn market between September 15, 2013 and April 10, 2018 may file claims:
- Corn producers, which includes any owner, operator, landlord or tenant who shared in the risk of producing any variety of corn, not just Syngenta varieties. Landlords who operated under fixed cash leases are not eligible.
- Grain handling facilities that purchased, transported, stored, handled and sold any variety of corn.
- Ethanol production facilities that produced, purchased and sold dried distillers’ grains from any variety of corn.
How to file a claim?
File electronically through a secure, encrypted portal at www.CornSeedSettlement.com or download a printed form on the same website to file via U.S. mail. Claimants must file using either a federal tax ID number or social security number and must file a separate claim for each Form 578 filed with FSA. Note that the settlement claims administrator states that all claims information is confidential and will be destroyed after the payment of claims.
How much will a claimant receive?
Payments will vary and will depend upon the total number of filed claims. For corn producers, the claims administrator will determine payments based on the following factors: (1) compensable recovery quantity as calculated by number of acres, ownership interest, NASS county yields and predetermined marketing year averages, (2) the year of planting, (3) the producer’s ownership interest, and (4) whether the producer purchased and planted Agrisure Viptera or Duracade seed or a different variety.
When will claimants receive payments?
A claimant might not receive a payment for about a year. A court hearing to approve the settlement will take place in the U.S District Court in Kansas on November 15, 2018. If the court approves the settlement, those who object to the approval can file appeals. Final payments won’t occur until the court resolves all appeals, which could take about a year or more.
Must claimants report payments as income?
Class action settlement payments that compensate for the loss of business income should be reported for tax purposes. Claimants should consult with tax advisors to determine IRS reporting requirements.
For more information, an extensive list of frequently asked questions about the Syngenta corn seed settlement is available here.