Jury Awards $265M to Farmer for Dicamba Damages
A federal jury in Missouri ruled in favor of a peach farmer, to the tune of $265 million, in a lawsuit against Bayer and BASF for damages attributed to offsite movement of dicamba.
The lawsuit was brought by a farmer in Missouri claiming damage to his peach orchard from dicamba used by neighboring farmers in 2016. Dicamba’s use increased following the introduction of dicamba-resistant soybeans, and reports of deleterious impacts to nontarget plants caused through drift and off-site movement have increased significantly.
Since three new dicamba formulations with lower volatility, including DuPont’s FeXapan®, BASF’s Engenia®, and Monsanto’s XtendiMax®, were introduced, EPA and several agriculture-heavy states have enacted restrictions to application timing to limit dicamba use during certain parts of the season. Some states even employed emergency bans. Complaints continue to grow; Illinois Department of Agriculture cited over 700 complaints in 2019, more than double the amount in 2018.
Bayer and BASF are expected to appeal the ruling. Part of their defense cited a confirmed infestation of Armillaria root rot in the peach orchard, which is known to weaken and kill trees. Furthermore, no evidence of dicamba residue was found in several hundred peaches harvested that year (2016).