Archer Daniels Midland has agreed to settle a price-fixing lawsuit regarding U.S. peanut crops. The Wall Street Journal reports ADM will pay $45 million to settle the lawsuit brought against ADM, Birdsong Peanuts and Olam International, by nearly 12,000 peanut farmers. Birdsong and Olam previously settled for a combined $58 million.
The three companies buy upwards of 90 percent of U.S.-grown peanuts. All three denied any wrongdoing in the settlement, but chose to settle to avoid further litigation-related expenses. The lawsuit claimed the three companies drove down peanut prices by overstating inventories, creating a false sense of oversupply in the market. Unlike other major commodities, there is no futures market for settling prices. The lawsuit claims prices from the three companies offered little variance, leaving farmers with few choices to sell their crop. In court documents, lawyers for the farmers involved in the lawsuit cited private discussions between the rival processors that the farmers claim showed coordination.