Eastern Arkansas Tomato Farmers Reach Settlement with Herbicide Company

OCTOBER 17, 2006 - Posted at 11:13 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - An attorney says Arkansas tomato growers and the maker of Facet have reached a settlement in the farmers' complaint that the herbicide caused extensive damage to their crops.  Hank Bates, a lawyer for the farmers, says the settlement is confidential.  The case was to go to trial next Monday before U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright.

Facet is used by rice farmers to control a weed known as barnyard grass, but the east Arkansas tomato growers complained it drifted from cropdusters onto their road crops.  The herbicide is particularly toxic to tomatoes, cantaloupes and other crops.

In 2000, the farmers filed two lawsuits and the suits were later combined.

Last year, a federal appeals court upheld Wright's decision to dismiss the lawsuits against BASF Corporation, which makes Facet.  But the appeals court then vacated its ruling and sent the case back to the judge for further consideration.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)