Damages Determined in Crop Destruction Case

April 24, 2010 | Erin Herbold

This case involves a farmer’s lawsuit against a local cooperative for damage done to his corn crop when the co-op sprayed the wrong herbicide on twenty-five acres of corn. The entire crop on that twenty-five acres was destroyed.  The co-op conceded on the negligence issue, so the only issue before the court involved the proper computation of damages.  The farmer argued that he was entitled to the “contract” price of the corn he lost, while the co-op argued that the farmer was only entitled to the market price of corn at the time of harvest in the fall of 2008- a far lower price. The problem with the farmer’s argument was that he didn’t have a contract for $7.18/bushel corn at the time the 25 acres of corn was destroyed.  He only entered into that contract at the time he replanted his crop.  That made the damage determination issue easy for the trial which concluded that the market price at the time of harvest was appropriate. The farmer appealed and the appellate court affirmed, citing Iowa law on crop damages. The court said that, “the proper method of measuring crop damage is the difference between the value the crop should have had and the value actually obtained, less any expenses.” Based upon evidence that the farmer was able to actually fill the $7.18 contract and the contract did not specify which field the corn crop was to come from, the market rate at harvest was the appropriate way to calculate damages for the destroyed corn.  Daniel v. New Cooperative, Inc., No. 0-100/09-1325, 2010 Iowa App. LEXIS 268 (Iowa Ct. App., Apr. 8, 2010).