Tag Archives: corn

KANSAS CITY, Mo. /PRNewswire/ — A $1.51 billion settlement has been reached in the nationwide class action lawsuit filed in Kansas federal court over Syngenta’s genetically modified corn seed.  It is believed to be the largest agricultural litigation settlement in U.S. history.  The settlement covers all U.S. corn producers – farmers and crop share landlords – as well as grain handling facilities and ethanol plants nationwide who sold corn priced after September 15, 2013.


A motion for preliminary approval has been filed.  The settlement must be approved by the Honorable John W. Lungstrum, a United States District Judge for the District of Kansas.

The litigation has been led by four lawyers who were appointed Co-Lead and Class Counsel by the Court – William Chaney of Gray Reed & McGraw LLP, Patrick Stueve of Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP, Don Downing of Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., and Scott Powell of Hare Wynn Newell & Newton.

The four co-lead counsel issued a statement: “We are very pleased with this outcome. America’s corn farmers and related businesses were hurt economically and this settlement will provide fair compensation for their damages.  It is an equitable result for all involved.”

Who is Covered Under this Syngenta Corn Class Action Settlement?

All corn growers, grain handling facilities and ethanol plants across the country – as defined in the settlement and who choose to stay in the settlement – are covered by this settlement, including any U.S. farmers who opted out of previous Syngenta litigation.

However, all class members must submit a claim form to receive settlement funds.

Next Steps

If preliminarily approved, the settlement terms and claims process information will be set forth in notices mailed to class members and published in various media outlets across the country, as well as in a settlement website.

Members of the class then will have a period of time to submit a claim form, opt out of the settlement, or object to the terms of the agreement.

Judge Lungstrum then will decide on whether to finally approve the $1.51 billion settlement.  If the settlement is ultimately approved, it is anticipated that funds could be distributed to class members in the first half of 2019.

The Syngenta Genetically Modified Corn Seed Litigation

Judge Lungstrum certified the nationwide class action lawsuit in September 2016.

Eight state class action lawsuits were also certified in the multi-district litigation. The four co-lead plaintiff’s counsel in the nationwide class action lawsuit also represented more than 7,000 Kansas farmers in the first and only state class action lawsuit to be tried to a verdict. In June 2017, a Kansas jury returned a $217.7 million verdict in favor of the Kansas grown growers.

These farmers, as well as all corn farmers nationwide, will be covered under this class action settlement and must submit a claim form to receive compensation.

For more information, visit www.syngentacornlitigation.com

SOURCE Hare Wynn Newell & Newton, LLP

WASHINGTON (March 9, 2018) – The National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Skunes told US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue this morning that proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard would trigger significant losses in farm income and in rural jobs.  Skunes asked the Secretary to work with President Trump to ensure the President understands the economic challenges farmers are facing today.

“Corn farmers have fought hard the past ten years, within Congress, with the last Administration, and in the Courts to protect the opportunity for renewable fuels to continue to grow as an option for consumers,” said Skunes. “Today, the President is considering a proposal from the oil industry that could cut farm income almost $4 billion dollars per year for the next two years.  It is a deal that American farmers cannot afford.  My message to the Secretary today was to ask the President not to cap future growth and opportunity in rural America by implementing a bad policy that would only serve to bailout a small handful of oil refiners.”

NCGA is opposed to an oil industry proposal that would cap the price of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).  According to a study released this week by Iowa State University, a RIN cap would reduce ethanol demand by more than 750 million gallons and cost corn farmers as much as 25-cents/bushel.

“We’ve made our case to the Secretary and the President that there are options that can provide a win-win to farmers, ethanol, and oil—namely, fixing existing Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) regulations to allow year-round use of fuel blends above 10 percent ethanol.  Unfortunately, the oil industry continues to insist those changes are not enough.  Three years ago, NCGA took the Obama Administration to court over decisions that violated the Renewable Fuel Standard.  We are hopeful that the President is willing to consider an RVP fix as the best solution, but we will continue to oppose any deal that includes a RIN cap or waiver credits.

“We understand the President is committed to protecting jobs—so are we.  We need the President to understand that this commitment needs to extend to rural America—to our farms, biofuels plants, and the manufacturing and processing jobs that depend upon American agriculture.”

OMAHA (DTN) — As the biofuels world waits for reported Renewable Fuel Standard reform legislation coming from a Texas senator, two Democrats from both chambers of Congress introduced a bill on Thursday to phase out corn ethanol and cap how much ethanol would be in the nation’s fuel pool at 9.7%.

During a news conference Thursday, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., announced RFS legislation aimed at what they said has been an environmental disaster caused by corn ethanol. So far, they are the only co-sponsors of the bill.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, along with Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., and others reportedly are drafting separate legislation to address ongoing concerns about the costs of renewable identification numbers, though there’s been little indication that President Donald Trump would sign any reform measure.

Udall and Welch said they are hopeful their bill can become part of a broader RFS reform that places an emphasis on developing advanced biofuels.

The Growing Renewable Energy Through Existing and New Environmentally Responsible Fuels Act would phase out corn ethanol from the current 15 billion gallons in the RFS to 1 billion gallons by 2029. In addition, the bill would immediately reduce the amount of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply by 1 billion gallons by capping ethanol by volume at 9.7%.

The legislation also would create a new fund through a 10-cent-per-RIN fee to promote moving croplands to wildlife habitats. During the press call, the lawmakers said numerous studies point to the loss of sensitive grasslands and habitats as a result of crop expansion.

The fund would be used to pay for easements on private lands to keep them out of agriculture production, keep lands in conservation uses such as grass, stream buffers or pollinator habitats, and would help farmers transition land in crop production to other uses.

The cellulosic ethanol mandate would be extended until annual production hits 2 billion gallons, or 2037, whichever comes first. The measure offers no solutions to address concerns about the costs of RINs.

“The RFS was a well-intentioned idea, but it needs reformed,” Udall told reporters. “Many Democrats supported the RFS because of the environmental benefits. It may well be hurting the environment. It needs to be reformed, so it serves its purpose. The current RFS encourages the conversion of open land.”

Welch said the current RFS has led to higher food prices, damage to vehicle engines and the disappearance of wildlife habitat.

“Despite its early promise, the RFS has been a well-intentioned flop that is harming our environment by contributing to the conversion of millions of acres of grasslands, wetlands and forests into crop production while failing to bring about the widespread use of truly sustainable fuels like cellulosic,” he said.

The measure also is supported by the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club.


Biofuels and agriculture interest groups were quick to discount the legislation.

Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association and an Arthur, North Dakota, farmer, said the legislation makes a number of false assumptions about the environmental stewardship of farmers.

“This legislation seeks to kill our most successful American renewable energy program,” he said in a statement to DTN. “The bill ignores current science reflecting the significant environmental benefits of ethanol and would have catastrophic consequences for our nation’s economy, our energy security, and family farmers. The sponsors of this legislation need to understand farmers’ productivity. Ethanol production is not significantly impacting land use.”

Skunes said planted corn acres were lower in 2017 than when the RFS was expanded in 2007, “yet we produced significantly more biofuels.”

Since 1980, he said, corn farmers have doubled production while using half the nutrient inputs per bushel.

“Every citizen has a stake in the RFS,” Skunes said. “The first casualty of this legislation will be consumer choice at the fuel pump, when they will be forced to buy more expensive gasoline, and the second will be the environment as we increase reliance on fuel that produces more greenhouse gases and toxic emissions like benzene.”

Though Welch and Udall said the legislation is aimed at expanding the production of advanced biofuels, one industry official was not impressed.

“This might be the most ridiculous and politically tone-deaf energy bill ever proposed,” said Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council. “The real question is why two Democrats are leading a fruitless effort to increase the use of carbon-intensive fossil fuels like tar sands.”

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said the bill would “throw the program into reverse, erasing more than a decade of progress.”

A USDA analysis recently found corn-based ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 43% on average compared to conventional gasoline, and could reach 76% by 2022.

“The bill also blatantly ignores reality by seeking to cap ethanol blends to no more than 9.7% by volume,” Dinneen said. “The so-called ethanol blend wall has been reduced to a pile a rubble.”

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, said the legislation “creates new uncertainty” for cellulosic and advanced biofuels companies.

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said, “When oil companies try to ghostwrite legislation for environmental front groups, you end up with some pretty backwards ideas, and that’s exactly what this appears to be. It’s dead on arrival with any lawmaker who cares about the climate, energy security, or the farm economy.”

Selling corn under $4 per bushel is not fun for anyone, but it will be a reality for Nebraska producers this year. Despite low prices, there will be opportunities for savvy marketers.

The 2018 marketing year is shaping up to be a similar situation in corn to that experienced in 2017. Here we will review some of the challenges producers faced in 2017 and how to avoid them in 2018.

In 2017, corn accumulated a record amount of global ending stock, placing downward pressure on corn prices. Without a major market jolt, we can expect 2018 corn prices to be shaped by this large quantity of corn.


Challenge: Because of the high volume of corn available, basis has been weak across the state. Grain buyers (elevators, ethanol facilities, feed yards) have access to plenty of grain and do not need to improve basis to attract farmers to sell. Remember basis values, especially for new crop, seldom change throughout the year. Furthermore, changes that take place are likely to be minimal (a few cents). Do not let a weak, unwavering basis keep you from selling grain when futures prices spike.

Solution: There is little to nothing that individual farmers can do to improve the basis. However, this is a good time to consider which delivery locations are the most profitable. Each grain buyer sets their own basis. Thus shopping around your area for the best basis may help you gain a couple of cents. If you have the ability to haul grain to another area, you will want to calculate if the cost of hauling grain to receive the better cash price is worth the expense of hauling. Check out the University of Kentucky’s Grain Haul Decision Spreadsheet. www.uky.edu/Ag/AgEcon/pubs/extGrainHaul36.xlsx

Early futures price peak

Challenge: Another symptom of high ending stocks, are that prices reach their peak much earlier in the year, February-April rather than April-June. Figure 1 compares a 20-year average percent price change from Jan. 1 to the average of years with “Very High” ending stocks. In 2017 many producers did not price corn early enough to capture seasonal highs.

Solution: Be prepared to sell grain early in 2018. Accept that you may be pricing a crop that you have yet to plant. Remember, in pre-harvest marketing plans it is not recommended that you forward contract or hedge 100% of expected production. The rule of thumb is to not pre-price more than insured production (Actual Production History (APH) times your percent of coverage). However, most producers price 25%-50% of insured production.

Unrealistic price targets

Challenge:  One of the barriers many farmers ran into in 2017, was that their pre-harvest price targets were too high. Producers had set target prices at and above $4.00/bu. cash in 2017. For most Nebraska farmers they had a small window, if any, to pre-price at this level.

Solution: The market does not care if prices are below your cost of production, until prices are so low that you decide not to produce anymore. Realistic target prices should be set based on grounded market expectations. The USDA releases the World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate monthly. In this report, they predict farm prices for corn, soybeans and wheat, giving us a good gauge to set price targets.  The December 12 USDA WASDE report estimates that national average cash price will be between $2.85 and $3.55/bu.

This year will be a challenge for many grain producers. Having a written marketing plan that addresses the pitfalls outlined above will help keep you on track. For more grain marketing information checkout cropwatch.unl.edu.

This year, 10 University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, as part of the 2018 Corn and Soy Collegiate Ambassador Program, are getting the chance to learn more about the agriculture industry.

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Nebraska Soybean Association launched the Corn and Soy Ambassador Program in 2013 to give students a comprehensive understanding of the industry. The program’s goals are to educate the students about state and federal policy issues affecting agriculture, and about opportunities available by supporting industries like the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Soybean Board and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Following the completion of the program students will be recognized at the annual meetings of the corn and soybean associations, and each will be presented a $500 scholarship to help them with school expenses. Funding for portions of the program is being provided by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Soybean Board.

The 10 members of the 2018 class are:

  • Claudia Dinardo – Auburn, IL
  • Alyssa Ehler – Elkhorn, NE
  • Ty Hadwiger – Riverdale, NE
  • Vince Konecky – Wahoo, NE
  • Bryce Lammers – Fordyce, NE
  • Nathan Lundeen – Minden, NE
  • Matthew Oswald – Aurora, NE
  • Shelby Riggs – Mitchell, SD
  • Elizabeth Ruskamp – North Bend, NE
  • Jack Spilker – DeWitt, NE

During the year ambassadors will take part in four seminars. The first meeting covers state and federal policies affecting the corn and soybean industries. The second meeting will focus on the role of checkoff programs in promoting corn and soybeans.

This summer the students will partake in an ag industry bus tour. Stops will include different facets of the ag industry including, manufacturing, production, and processing. These stops will hopefully give students more insight into potential jobs and internships in the industry.

During the course of the program, students are asked to spend time to promoting the state’s corn and soybean grower associations and checkoffs at promotional events such as Husker Harvest Day and Soybean Management Field Days. Following the events, they are required to report on their experiences and what they’ve learned.

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Nebraska Soybean Association would like to congratulate the recently graduated 8 members of the 2017 Corn and Soy Ambassador class on a successful year.

For more information on the program, contact Morgan Wrich, Nebraska Corn Growers Association at 402-438-6459, mwrich@necga.com or Lori Luebbe, Nebraska Soybean Association at 402-441-3239, lori@nebraskasoybeans.org.