(Bloomberg) – Bayer AG and rival BASF SE have to pay $ 15 million to a farmer who blamed the company’s dicamba herbicide for maiming its peach plantations, the Cape Girardeau, Missouri court found on Friday that Bayer and BASF were responsible for Bill Bader’s losses caused by Dicamba, which migrated from neighboring cotton fields over a period of three years from 2015. Bader, the state’s largest peach producer, had requested approximately $ 21 million in damages for years with reduced yields, which he attributed to the Dicamba damage. The Dicamba construction left Bader’s trees “in terrible condition”, the farmer said during the three-week trial. Bader refused to use dicamba for crops grown on his 1,000-acre farm in southeast Missouri. The product is manufactured by Monsanto Co., which Bayer acquired in 2018.
In the verdict, the jury said they had concluded that the case could justify punitive damages. The panel will hear evidence of the assets of the companies on Saturday before deciding whether to award a penalty. The ruling is the latest lawsuit for Bayer, which is attempting to resolve thousands of lawsuits alleging that exposure to its Roundup weed killer causes cancer. The company faces more than 140 Dicamba suits. Farmers from Arkansas to Illinois are demanding compensation for ruined crops such as corn, cotton and soybeans.
Chris Loder, a US-based spokesman for Bayer, declined to comment and referred to a judge’s order not to publicly discuss the lawsuit. Donna Jakubowski, a US-based spokeswoman for BASF, did not immediately respond to a call to receive a comment.
Read more: Court of Appeal raises challenge against EPA Dicamba registration
Monsanto has been fighting lawsuits in the U.S. Midwest since 2015, when farmers claimed that its dicamba-based herbicide, now known as XtendiMax, vaporized and drifted to nearby fields and damaged crops that were not resistant to the weed control agent. BASF produces its own dicamba-based herbicide for use on genetically modified seeds. The companies say that the problems arose when farmers misused the chemical and that Dicamba’s current formulations don’t drift if the correct procedures are followed.
In Bader’s case, the peach farmer said that the neighbors had planted Dicamba-resistant cotton made by BASF and sprayed it with the older, easy-to-drift version of the weed killer. The herbicide enveloped its peach plantations, curled leaves and killed trees.
He tried to get Monsanto to inspect his damaged trees, but was told by a company representative that he did not have the manpower to get to his farm. “He made it clear that they would not do anything about it,” Bader told the jury. Corporate lawyers provided statistical evidence that Bader’s peach yields began to decline before 2015. They cited weather events such as hailstorms and late freezes as the cause of the decline in peach production.
The case is Bader Farms v. Monsanto Co., 16-cv-00299, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri (Cape Girardeau).
(Updates with details on Dicamba damage from the seventh paragraph)
To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at [email protected], Peter Blumberg, Joe Schneider
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