Farm Press Release
For immediate release - Friday, May 16, 2003.
Contact Bob Brammer (515-281-6699) or Steve Moline (515-281-6634.)
AG's Farm Division Advises Farmers to Consider Filing for Payments Connected to StarLink Corn's Impact on the Price of Corn
DES MOINES. The Attorney General's Farm Division is calling attention to a deadline coming May 31 in a private class-action lawsuit that alleged StarLink genetically modified corn diminished the market value of corn. "I strongly encourage corn producers all over Iowa to look into it and consider making a claim," said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.
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 Attorney General's Office has not been 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.
The deadline to file a "Corn Loss Proof of Claim" is May 31, 2003. Interested producers may obtain a claim form and information from the "Non-StarLink Farmer Litigation" Claims Administrator. The claims web site is www.non-starlinkfarmerssettlement.com, and the toll-free number is 1-888-833-4317. Forms may be obtained for free, and there is no cost for filing a claim.
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.
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 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.
Attorney General Tom Miller encouraged Iowa corn producers to look into the settlement and claims process before the May 31 deadline.
"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 appears to be simple and it's free. As the nation's top corn-producing state, this could bring millions of dollars into Iowa. It's one more step in resolving issues raised by the StarLink episode."
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.
- 30 -
Helpful links for information: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org
Claim Administrator's web site: www.non-starlinkfarmerssettlement.com
The Claim Administrator's toll-free number is 1-888-833-4317.
Judge Moran's "Summary Settlement Notice":
Claim Administrator's "FAQ" frequently-asked questions:
Iowa Grain Quality Initiative: www.Iowagrain.org
- 30 -