Bayer Jury Awards Farmer $15 Million for Dicamba Crop Damage

14 Feb by Vitaliy Dadalyan

Bayer Jury Awards Farmer $15 Million for Dicamba Crop Damage

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Bayer Jury Awards Farmer $15 Million for Dicamba Crop Damage(Bloomberg) — Bayer AG and rival BASF SE must pay $15 million to a farmer who blamed the companies’ dicamba herbicide for mutilating his peach orchards, a jury concluded in the first case to go to trial over the controversial weedkiller.Jurors in federal court in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, found Friday that Bayer and BASF were responsible for Bill Bader’s losses caused by dicamba that drifted from neighboring cotton fields over a three-year period starting in 2015. Bader, the state’s largest peach producer, had sought about $21 million in damages for years of reduced yields he blamed on the dicamba damage.The dicamba build-up left Bader’s trees “in terrible shape,” the farmer testified during the three-week trial. Bader refused to use dicamba on any crops grown on his 1,000-acre southeastern Missouri farm. The product is made by Monsanto Co., which Bayer acquired in 2018.In the verdict, jurors said they concluded the case may warrant punitive damages. The panel will hear evidence about the net worth of the companies on Saturday before deciding whether to issue a punishment award.The verdict is the latest litigation hit for Bayer, which is seeking to settle thousands of lawsuits claiming exposure to its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer. The company faces more than 140 dicamba suits, with farmers from Arkansas to Illinois seeking compensation for ruined crops including corn, cotton and soy beans.Chris Loder, a U.S.-based spokesman for Bayer, declined to comment, citing a judge’s order not to discuss the litigatiion publicly. Donna Jakubowski, a U.S.-based spokeswoman for BASF, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.Read More: Appeals Court Tosses Challenge to EPA Dicamba Registration Monsanto has been fighting lawsuits across the U.S. Midwest since 2015, when farmers alleged its dicamba-based herbicide, now known as XtendiMax, vaporized and drifted onto nearby fields, damaging crops that weren’t designed to be resistant to the weedkiller. BASF makes its own dicamba-based herbicide for use on its genetically modified seeds.The companies say the problems were created when farmers applied the chemical incorrectly, and that dicamba’s current formulations won’t drift if proper procedures are followed.In Bader’s case, the peach farmer said neighbors planted dicamba-resistant cotton engineered by BASF and sprayed it with the older, easy-drift version of the weedkiller. The herbicide enveloped his peach orchards, curling leaves and killing trees.He tried to get Monsanto to inspect his damaged trees, but was told by a company representative that it didn’t have the manpower to make it out to his farm. “He made it clear they weren’t going to do a durn thing about it,” Bader told jurors.The companies’ lawyers presented statistical evidence showing that Bader’s peach yields had begun to fall prior to 2015. They cited weather events, such as hail storms and late freezes, as the cause for declining 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 starting in seventh paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware at [email protected], ;Tim Bross in St. Louis at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at [email protected], Peter Blumberg, Joe SchneiderFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.