Farmers who grow corn in South Carolina may qualify for a $1.51 billion settlement regarding corn seed.
The settlement reached earlier this year in a Kansas federal court is considered one of the largest agricultural litigation settlements in the country’s history. Farmers who used a genetically-modified Syngenta-brand seed between 2013 and 2018 may qualify for the settlement. Corn producers, grain handlers or ethanol producers who used Syngenta Agrisure Viptera and Duracade corn seeds may also qualify.
Although the corn seed involved in the settlement was mainly used for export, Clemson Feed Grain Extention Specialist David Gunter said some South Carolina farmers may qualify to file a claim.
“It’s just an opportunity we need to look at as far as the growers in this state,” he said. “It’s there for some people. If we can get some of that money here in South Carolina, that would be great.”
Gunter said most of South Carolina’s corn stays within the state.
“We feed a lot of animals with our corn. We don’t export, I don’t think, hardly any corn,” he said. “We feed turkeys. We feed chickens. All those poultry folks, they use about every bit of corn that we produce and then have to import a lot from up in the Midwest, too.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, about 340,000 acres of corn was planted in South Carolina this year. For comparison, Iowa has 13 million acres planted. The demand for corn in South Carolina surpasses the supply.
“Midwest corn gets exported,” Gunter said. “It goes everywhere in the world.”
Gunter said South Carolina farmers benefit when the corn supply from the Midwest gets interrupted. The state’s poultry farmers go through the equivalent of a 90-car train’s worth of corn each week.
“They’re on a list with these companies. When they need corn in a hurry and they know someone can haul in several loads a day, they’ll contact those people,” Gunter said. “It does have an effect. We are lucky. That’s the only reason we can grow corn in this state, to tell you the truth.”
“As long as that poultry industry is consuming a lot of corn we can still grow it,” Gunter said. “Even though we might not have as good of yields that they get in the Midwest, we make up a lot of that with the price we can get locally.