Farm Press Release
For immediate release - Tuesday, June 17, 2003.
Contact Bob Brammer (515-281-6699) or Steve Moline (515-281-6634.)
Deadline Extended to July 31 for Claims on Non-StarLink Corn
Miller Advises Farmers to Consider Filing for Payments Connected to StarLink Corn's Impact on the Overall Price of Corn
The deadline for filing "Corn Loss Proofs of Claims" has been extended sixty days to July 31, 2003, in the private class-action lawsuit resulting from StarLink GMO corn.
The Farm Division of the Iowa Attorney General's Office is encouraging corn producers to go the settlement web site at www.non-starlinkfarmerssettlement.com or call the toll-free number at 1-888-833-4317 for documents, information, and claim forms. The prior deadline (May 31) was extended because problems arose at the claims administrator web site at the end of May.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said the claim process is for the private class-action lawsuit that alleged StarLink genetically modified corn diminished the overall market value of corn. "I strongly encourage producers all over Iowa to look into it and consider making a claim," he said.
The claims administrator's web site notes: "There is a substantial amount of money available to pay growers' claims. Filing a claim will not cost you anything, and you may receive a recovery. The current estimate is that the recovery to individual growers on corn loss claims will not be less than $1.50 per acre of corn grown based on the year 2000 growing year (actual recovery amounts will vary depending on the number of class members who claim and are approved.)"
Miller said: "Tens of millions of dollars will be distributed to ordinary corn producers under this settlement," he said. "The amount paid per acre may well be modest, but the claims process is simple and it's free. As the nation's top corn-producing state, Iowa could reap millions of dollars in this process. It's one more step in resolving issues caused by the StarLink episode."
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Farmers who harvested NON-Starlink corn during any of the years from 1998 through 2002 may be covered by the settlement -- whether or not their crops or corn stores suffered actual contamination. Aventis CropScience previously paid tens of millions of dollars to farmers and elevators in Iowa and across the nation, and to food companies and grain marketing companies for direct damages resulting from StarLink corn. This case involves NON-StarLink corn.
The Iowa Attorney General's Office is not involved in the private class-action litigation or any negotiation of terms of settlement, but Miller said corn producers would be wise to pay attention to the settlement and upcoming deadlines for filing claims.
A "Summary Settlement Notice" issued by the U.S. District Court judge handling the matter discussed "Corn Loss" compensation: Eligible non-StarLink corn farmers will receive a proportionate share of the settlement funds "as compensation for alleged reduction in the general price of corn due to the presence of StarLink corn in the U.S. corn supply." A claimant's share of the funds will be determined by the producer's corn acreage in the year 2000 (by dividing the claimant's number of acres of corn harvested in the year 2000 into the total acreage of all corn loss claimants -- see Claim Administrator site for more details.) The amount received by claimants will depend on how many claims are filed.
Miller urged farmers to check out the settlement web site or toll-free number for many more details on the case, and also Judge James B. Moran's full Notice on the matter. The Judge's Notice is at: http://www.non-starlinkfarmerssettlement.com/summary.php3. The Claims Administrator "FAQ" frequently-asked questions are at: http://www.non-starlinkfarmerssettlement.com/faq.php3
Another good source of information is the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative, whose web site is: www.Iowagrain.org. Farmers also can get access to all these links at the AG's web site: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org.
The matter is pending in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, in Chicago. According to the Court's Notice, the settlement provides for payment of $110,000,000. Funds will be used to pay plaintiffs' attorney fees and costs and costs associated with the claims process and administration of the settlement, in addition to the payments to non-StarLink corn producers.
The Farm Division of Miller's office led a separate multi-state effort in 2001 that resulted in Aventis CropScience paying over $15 million to Iowa farmers and elevators for direct losses attributable to StarLink corn.
"Now this private class-action settlement can help even more corn producers receive some compensation for the consequences of StarLink," Miller said.
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