THE number of farmers registered in the shattercane class action has grown to 50 in NSW and Queensland.
As the groundwork continues to take place in Mallonland vs Advanta Seeds, lawyer Dan Creevey said another 10 people had come forward after a meeting in Toowoomba on Tuesday of last week.
The case is due for mention in the Queensland Supreme Court tomorrow.
Mr Creevey held another meeting in Willow Tree this week to update registered and interested farmers on the progress of the matter.
He said there was something surprising about this stage of the proceedings: “People still haven’t even heard of it.”
“One farmer saw me in Willow Tree and said the first time he’d heard of it was from another farmer in Willow Tree [even though] it has been out in the local news for some time,” he said.
“The message at this stage is that it’s still early days, it’s in the control of the courts, we’re still desperately getting out there to make sure that anyone who’s had this problem at least come forward and let us know.
“At the end of the day, if we don’t hear from them, they miss out.”
Clifford Gouldson Lawyers’ Harrison Humphries, for Advanta Seeds, released a statement last week challenging the plaintiff Mallonland “to explain its delay”.
“After almost 10 months, Mallonland still has not submitted a full and final statement of claim, meaning the matter is effectively yet to get underway,” Mr Humphries said.
“Such a lengthy delay in completing the very first stage of a legal claim is highly unusual.
“The claims against Advanta Seeds, including whether or not its MR43 Elite seed was contaminated, remain disputed and unproven.
“Advanta Seeds is proud of its 55-year history supporting Australian farmers.
“The company has every confidence in the quality of its products and scientifically rigorous quality controls.”
Mr Creevey said it was simply a “slow process”.
“There are so many complex issues involved in it – for example, one of the issues that have to be determined is whether this is even a class action,” he said.
“Advanta is arguing it’s not and that the farmers should be suing them individually: 50 separate actions.
“If they were to win that argument, they couldn’t afford to take Advanta on.
“Like that, there are many, many legal issues that have to be sorted out.
“The court’s aware of that.”