What is in this article?:
- GM rice settlement nears Oct. 10 sign-up deadline
- GM rice settlement sign-up deadline is Oct. 10.
- Sign-up process explained.
- Farmer/landlord sign-up/payment options discussed.
On what happens if a farmer seeks the landlord’s portion of the settlement under a crop-share agreement…
“Every rice farmer and crop-share landlord is eligible to participate.
“In the settlement, we negotiated an opportunity for the tenant farmer to recover the landlord’s portion if (both parties) are agreeable. We thought that would be helpful because many landlords aren’t actively involved in the farming operation. They look to their tenant to take care of the paperwork and business of the farm.
“The vast majority of my client tenant-farmers are seeking their landlord’s share.
“It’s a simple process for the tenant to seek the landlord’s portion. If that’s the case, we need to know that when preparing the claim form. We’ll include the landlord’s portion in the tenant’s claim and send to the tenant two documents that each of his landlords need to sign.
“One document simply authorizes the payment from the settlement to go to the tenant. The tenant would then share that payment with the landlord in accordance with their crop-share agreement.
“The second document is a release saying if (the settlement payment is made) the landlord won’t sue Bayer over GM rice.
“So, it’s simple for a farmer to seek the landlord’s portion. But it’s very important that the landlord’s portion be included in settlement either through the tenant or, as some have decided to do, make their own individual claim.
“The reason that’s so important goes back to the 85 percent threshold. If 85 percent of all the tenants sign up and, yet, no landlords, there’s no way to meet the threshold. Some landlords receive 25 percent of the crop, some 30 percent, some a third. If you exclude the landlord portion of the crop out of the settlement, the threshold won’t be met.”
Why is there no way to know if the threshold has been met until after the deadline?
“The lawyers that represent the farmers certainly communicate among ourselves to try and keep track of how we’re progressing. But at the end of the day, 85 percent is a very high threshold.
“We’re not there yet. I can assure everyone that 85 percent of the eligible acres haven’t been submitted to the claims administrator.
“Until we get very close to the deadline, we’ll not know if we’ve met the threshold.
“One step further, after the lawyer has submitted all the documentation and uploaded it into the claims administrator’s system, (he) won’t know for certain it has been formally accepted until, probably, seven to 14 days later. The claims administrator (office) has a bunch of people going through the forms making sure they’ve been done properly.
“So, in effect, we won’t know until after the Oct. 10 deadline whether we’ve met the threshold.”
You’ll know if the threshold was met around Halloween?
“We hope we’ll know by then. A lot depends on how quickly the claims administrator is able to process and certify the claims.
“But, yes, we expect to know something by late October or, at least, by Thanksgiving.”
On sign-ups by region…
“There’s overwhelming support for this settlement in the farming community. There have been sign-ups in every (rice-growing) state.
“Since Arkansas is the largest rice-producing state, we have the largest sign-ups from that state, by far.
“But in proportion to the acreage planted in each state, each is represented very well in the settlement…
“We’re anticipating there will be over 10,000 individual claim forms filed. That’s a big chore for the claims administrator.”