Tomato Suit

September 3, 2003  -- Posted at 8:05 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  --A closed settlement conference is scheduled today between a chemical maker and a group of Arkansas tomato farmers who say their crops were ruined by an herbicide commonly used by rice farmers.

U-S Magistrate Henry Jones is to oversee the meeting between 17 Arkansas tomato farmers and B-A-S-F Incorporated, maker of the herbicide Facet.

The tomato growers sued B-A-S-F seeking actual and punitive damages for crops lost since the early 1990s, when Facet came into use.

Tomato growers claim Facet ruins their crops, but B-A-S-F disagrees, claiming tests drew approval from state and federal regulators.

Lawyers involved in the case would not say whether they believe a settlement today is likely.

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