RiceTec to defend its seed in court

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A lawsuit against RiceTec Inc. has rice farmers claiming the company is selling inferior rice hybrid seeds and has earned considerable attention in Texas and Mid-South rice country—so much attention that the president of RiceTec issued a response to the media saying the company provides the highest of quality, industry-leading seed products.

"RiceTec has learned that it is the subject of a lawsuit by 15 individual farmers and their related entities. We strongly disagree with the allegations in the lawsuit and will vigorously defend RiceTec’s products,” said John Nelsen, president and CEO of RiceTec Inc. in Alvin, Texas.

A report by PRWeb online news service reports it is “32 farmers and farming operations” who have joined an Arkansas farmer in the lawsuit filed in mid-July. The contention of the lawsuit is that RiceTec hybrid rice seed is not of appropriate quality for producing long-grain rice that meets standards comparable to the U.S. rice industry’s reputation and that the seed does not produce the rice volume that should be expected.

It is a wide condemnation of RiceTec as filed with the court. The farmers claim RiceTec seed grows inferior milling quality rice that has hurt the U.S. rice industry so much that the U.S. rice growers are losing market share in the world market. The claim also is that the company basically guaranteed higher yields than growing other conventional rice, but at least some hybrids have not performed as advertised.  

"RiceTec Inc. has been developing hybrid rice seed for commercial production for more than 20 years. We are a company built on innovation and grounded in scientific research and fact. Because of this, RiceTec has earned its position as the leading supplier of rice seed to American farmers,” Nelson said in his response. "We believe in both our products and our people, and we value our customers and their success. That is why we continue to provide them with industry-leading products and first-class service."

It has been reported that the farmers joined as interveners July 16 in a countersuit filed July 6 in the Circuit Court of Greene County, Ark. The lawsuits apparently started when Scott Meredith, who owns and operates a farm near Delaplaine, Ark., refused to pay his seed bill to RiceTec claiming he was sold inferior seed.

RiceTec is solely owned by the royal family of Liechtenstein, and the company largely controls the hybrid seed rice market in the U.S, explained Clayton Smaistrla, who has been quoted about the situation as the attorney with Goldman Phipps, who represents the farmers.

The non-payment of his seed bill dates back to the 2008 growing season when Meredith planted two hybrid seeds and ended up harvesting about half of his normal yield or anticipated higher yield.

“The lawsuit claims RiceTec violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act by, among other things, misrepresenting to Meredith and other farmers that its seeds were of a certain age, purity, variety and quality and would produce rice crops with substantially higher yields. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that RiceTec hybrid seed has an abnormally thin bran layer and cannot be milled to the standards that buyers expect, and that this defect is causing financial loss to rice farmers,” according to the PRWeb article.

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