Alvin, TX-based Ricetec Inc. found itself at the wrong end of business law violation claims because it went after one farmer for non-payment. Ricetec had filed suit against Scott Meredith of Delaplaine, AR for non-payment after the farmer had purchased Ricetec's hybrid seeds.
Earlier this month, Scott Meredith filed a counter-lawsuit against Ricetec alleging that some of the seeds are entirely defective and this required him to replant whole sections on the land. Secondly, Ricetec's hybrids are alleged to be inferior as a whole and do not produce a good harvest.
Now 32 other Arkansas farmers have joined the lawsuit in Greene County Circuit Court, alleging the same charges. They say Ricetec hybrid rice does not fetch a good price because there is less bran around the kernel. The Ricetec hybrids apparently chip off easily and do not cook so well and this leads to lower demand that traditional long-grain rice and consequently lower prices.
In the seed packaging, Ricetec claims that its hybrid rice seed will provide a better yield than conventional long-grain seed varieties. The 33 lawsuits are not being folded into a single class-action suit as yet because the claims and complaints differ from farmer to farmer. One farmer who had to replant part of a 2,000 acre farm says in his court filing that Ricetec only agreed to provide new seed and refused to provide compensation for the cost of replanting.
The traditional non-hybrid rice seed in Arkansas was contaminated by genetic modification in 2006, and it lead to a big change in rice cultivation techniques after European importers refused the genetically modified strain of rice. Ricetec's hybrid seeds are therefore in high demand even though farmers allege that Ricetec's hybrids are inconsistent and of a lower quality. The company's hybrids are apparently capable of resisting a disease called panicle blight which afflicts traditional seeds under high night time temperatures.