Dicamba on trial: Peach farmer takes the stand in lawsuit against Bayer, BASF

Since 1970, Bill Bader has worked on peach farms in Dunklin County, Missouri, just north of the Arkansas border. Bader started picking peaches at age 13, and in 1988, he established Bader Farms.

The farm grew to become the largest peach grower in Missouri, shipping fruit to grocery stores such as IGA and Wal-Mart, as well as others across eight states in the Midwest and South. “A peach we picked today will be in the grocery store tomorrow morning,” Bader testified in federal court in Cape Girardeau on Tuesday. Bader took the stand a week and a half into a trial of a lawsuit he filed against German agribusiness giants Bayer and BASF. Bader alleges that drift from the herbicide dicamba has damaged his peach trees and made his 1,000-acre operation no longer sustainable.

Dicamba on trial: Despite assurances to farmers, BASF told pesticide applicators dicamba may cause soybean damage

While BASF was telling farmers there would be no yield impacts from dicamba drift in 2017, the company was privately telling pesticide applicators that any drift they caused could cause yield loss, according to Monday video testimony from Gary Schmitz, tech service regional manager for the Midwest. Schmitz was the first official from BASF to testify in the ongoing trial of the civil lawsuit filed by Bader Farms, the largest peach farm in Missouri. In the lawsuit, Bader Farms alleges that Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018, and BASF knew their dicamba-related products released beginning in 2015 would cause damage to other farmers, yet released the products anyway. 

Monsanto released cotton seeds genetically engineered to withstand being sprayed by dicamba in 2015 and similar soybean seeds in 2016, but neither BASF nor Monsanto released accompanying herbicides, designed to be less volatile than older versions of dicamba, until 2017. In 2015 and 2016, many farmers illegally sprayed BASF’s older versions of the volatile herbicide on their dicamba-tolerant crops, according to the lawsuit. Bader Farms alleges that it is no longer a sustainable business after being hit by dicamba drift each year since 2015.

Dicamba on trial: Monsanto officials testified dicamba may drift, but not enough to harm crops

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo - If farmers follow the label, small amounts of dicamba may move off of the crops where they are applied, but there is “no way” that movement could hurt neighboring crops, according to video testimony from Monsanto officials in federal court on Friday. The testimony wrapped up the first week of a trial in a civil lawsuit filed by Bader Farms, the largest peach farm in Missouri, against BASF and Bayer, which bought Monsanto in 2018. Bader Farms alleges that drift from the herbicide dicamba led to its 1,000-acre peach farm no longer being sustainable. Bader also alleges the companies released their dicamba-related products knowing they would harm other crops. 

BASF and Bayer deny the allegations, blaming the crop damage on farmers making illegal applications, weather events, disease and other issues. The companies are defending themselves in court, and the trial is expected to last at least two weeks.

#AgAlerts: Farmer suicides; unharvested corn; meatpacker rules; bees

For decades, farmers have been engaged in an epic battle of David vs. Goliath, farmer vs. meatpacker. Just a handful of companies—including Tyson, JBS, and Cargill—control over 80 percent of the meat market. These companies set the price farmers and ranchers receive for their animals, and often work together to ensure that they stay low.

Dicamba on trial: Internal docs show Monsanto, BASF prepared for drift complaints prior to dicamba launch

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - For years, Monsanto and BASF have been blaming alleged crop damage from the weed killer dicamba on other factors, including weather, other pesticides and applicator misuse. 

But on the first day of a civil trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in Cape Girardeau on Monday, internal company documents presented in opening arguments showed that both companies were warned about the herbicide’s potential to damage other crops. Documents also showed the companies prepared for complaints about the weed killer prior to the new genetically modified crop systems being released. German agribusiness companies Bayer and BASF face allegations in a civil lawsuit that they created circumstances that damaged millions of acres of crops by dicamba in order to increase profits from a set of new dicamba-related products offered for sale beginning in 2015. A trial of the lawsuit, originally filed in November 2016 by southeastern Missouri peach farmer Bill Bader, began Monday and is expected to last two to three weeks.

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“The egg business has undergone massive changes in the last 45 years. Once predominantly represented by such small family farms, it began to shift heavily toward industrialization and more vertically integrated systems, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AGMRC). Where once a flock of 400 laying hens was the norm, industrial flocks today can top 5 million hens.”

Controversial pesticide use sees dramatic increase across the Midwest

Farmers have been using the weed killer glyphosate – a key ingredient of the product Roundup – at soaring levels even as glyphosate has become increasingly less effective and as health concerns and lawsuits mount.