News Article

StarLink Settlement Deadline

By Aces Staff
May 12, 2003

May 12, 2003

 

URBANA-Most Illinois farmers face a May 31 deadline to submit a "Proof of Claim" in order to receive their share of a $110,000,000 national settlement recently approved by the U.S. District Court in Chicago, said Don Uchtmann, University of Illinois Extension agricultural law specialist.

"Although quite a few Illinois producers have submitted their claim, many others are eligible to participate in the StarLink settlement and receive about $1 or $2 per acre, maybe more, for each acre of non-StarLink corn harvested as grain in 2000," said Uchtmann.

The exact payment per acre depends on how many U.S. farmers submit claims.

"If a particular farm operator doesn't submit a timely claim, that farm operator's share of the settlement will just be distributed among others who do submit timely claims,” he said.

"The settlement is a compromise between farmers who filed the class action lawsuits and the companies that developed and sold StarLink seed. The class action settlement is intended to compensate all farmers who grew non-StarLink corn in year 2000 for damage they allegedly incurred because of the StarLink incident."

StarLink was a genetically engineered corn variety approved for feed use in the U.S., but not for food use or export. After StarLink was discovered in taco shells, aggressive steps were taken to channel all grain containing traces of StarLink into approved uses. But the presence of StarLink throughout much of the 2000 corn supply allegedly scared away buyers and depressed the U.S. price for the entire crop.

Under the court-approved settlement, there are several types of potential claims, said Uchtmann, but the most common type will be the Corn Loss Proof of Claim for non-StarLink corn acres harvested for grain in 2000.

"Since very few farmers 'opted out' of the proposed settlement by the March 21 deadline, over 99% of the year 2000 harvested corn acres are potentially eligible for payment. About $70 million will be distributed, pro rata, over the corn acres documented by claimants, but the farm operator must mail the Corn Loss Proof of Claim by the May 31 deadline,” he said.

Farmers who lost the original Proof of Claim form mailed to farmers before March 21 can get a new form and filing instructions from the Internet. The form is not hard to fill out, especially if the farmer has copies of the Farm Service Agency forms (form FSA-578) showing year 2000 corn acres for each farm. FSA offices can provide a copy of this form if needed. The form asks for acres of corn, but does not request yield information.

"It's the farm operator who submits the form," said Uchtmann, "and then the farm operator has a responsibility to account to landlords who shared in the crop."

An article titled "How to file claims by May 31 for compensation from the non-StarLink farmer's class action settlement" is available on the farmdoc website at http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/legal/starlink_related_table.html. It provides valuable, practical information and tools, and a link to the official "Non-StarLink Farmer Litigation" website where the claim form can be obtained.

-30-