Big ag companies say business continues amid coronavirus pandemic

Farmers across the U.S. are prepping for planting season, amid concerns about how the Covid-19 pandemic could disrupt the supply chain, lead to labor shortages and influence price manipulation. Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, raised these concerns in a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday. The letter discussed the need for farm laborers, as the State Department is not processing any non-emergency visas and the unique markets farmers are facing during the outbreak. First reported in December, there are now just over 229,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide as of Thursday morning - including more than 10,700 cases in the U.S. according to data collected by John Hopkins University.  

Since the highly-infectious respiratory illness was declared a worldwide pandemic on March 11, U.S. federal and state officials have made moves to limit its spread, including closing down schools, restaurants and bars, cancelling large events and encouraging people to practice ‘social distancing’ by keeping at least 6-feet away from others. 

Duvall wrote that social distancing could have a “significant impact on the processing plants that drive America’s supply chain.” These include meat packing plants, dairy processors, ethanol plants and others. He also raised concerns about farmers’ access to seed, fertilizer and chemicals. For now, even as grocery shelves empty across the United States amidst the coronavirus pandemic, food suppliers and retailers have promised there is plenty of food in reserve.

Jury orders Monsanto, BASF to pay peach farmer $250 million in punitive damages

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - A federal jury determined that German agribusiness giants Bayer and BASF will have to pay $250 million in punitive damages to Bader Farms, the largest peach farm in Missouri, for damage caused by their dicamba-related products. The verdict comes at the end of a three-week trial of a case where Bader Farms alleges it is going out of business because of damage incurred by the companies' dicamba herbicides moving off of neighboring fields and harming their 1,000 acres of peach orchards. 

On Friday, the jury ruled that both Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018, and BASF acted negligently and Bader Farms should receive $15 million in actual damages for future losses incurred because of the loss of their orchard. 

Read also Reporter’s notebook: Five key takeaways from trial of peach farmer’s lawsuit vs. Bayer, BASF

Bader Farms will receive a total of $265 million. BASF and Bayer will have to sort out what portion of the damages each company pays. 

Bader Farms is among thousands of farms, comprising millions of acres of crops, that have alleged dicamba damage since 2015.

Jury awards $265 million to Bader Farms in lawsuit against Bayer, BASF

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - A federal jury found in favor of Bader Farms on all counts in a lawsuit against Bayer and BASF. On Friday, the jury awarded $15 million of the requested $20.9 million in damages requested by Bader Farms.

On Saturday, the jury also awarded Bader Farms $250 million in punitive damages. The verdicts come at the end of a three-week trial of a case filed by Missouri’s largest peach farm against German agribusiness giants BASF and Bayer, which bought Monsanto in 2018, over damage allegedly caused by their pesticide dicamba."We are disappointed with the jury’s verdict.  While we have empathy for Mr. Bader, Monsanto’s products were not responsible for the losses sought in this lawsuit and we look forward to appealing the decision," Bayer said in a statement shortly after Saturday's verdict was issued. Campbell-based Bader Farms alleges that BASF and Monsanto knew their dicamba-related products would cause damage to other farms and released them anyway to increase demand for their products. 

Bader Farms’ harvest dropped from an average of 162,000 bushels in the early 2000s to as low as 12,000 bushels in 2018.