Fifteen Arkansas farmers and their related entities are claiming in a lawsuit that hybrid seed purchased from RiceTec is defective. The suit also argues that the seed resulted in lower prices to farmers.
In a statement, John Nelsen, president of the Alvin, Texas-based RiceTec president and CEO, says, "We strongly disagree with the allegations in the lawsuit and will vigorously defend RiceTec's products.
"We believe in both our products and our people and we value our customers and their success," Nelsen says. "That is why we continue to provide them with industry-leading products and first-class service."
According to the farmers' lawyer, San Antonio-based firm Goldman Phipps, the dispute began with RiceTec's recent lawsuit against a farmer for not paying his seed bill.
The farmer, Scott Meredith of Delaplaine, Ark., in Greene County, countersued July 6, arguing that RiceTec misrepresented yields and quality of the hybrid seed.
Meredith's suit alleges that RiceTec violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The lawsuit claims RiceTec misrepresented to him and other farmers that the seeds were of a certain age, purity, variety and quality to would produce substantially higher yields.
In the suit, Meredith says he spent $60,468 on RiceTec seed in 2008 and was told by a dealer and the company that he could expect his normal yields of 150 bushels per acre to increase between 187 to 197 bushels with the RiceTec hybrids.
In the lawsuit, Meredith says the hybrids yielded only 70 to 95 bushels per acre.
The lawsuit says RiceTec blamed the shortfall on Meredith's use of 2,4-D applied at the wrong time. Meredith argues he didn't use the chemical because it is banned in Greene County, Ark., because it kills cotton, the lawsuit states.
In the lawsuit, farmers say the "defective condition of RiceTec's hybrid rice has caused the reputation of U.S. rice to suffer, even causing some markets to reject U.S. long grain rice and/or pay less for U.S. long grain rice because of its lesser quality and/or injured reputation."