Bake test 2

Jeremy Bunch, research and development director of Shepherd’s Grain, participates in a flour baking test. The cooperative, formally known as Columbia Plateau Producers, has settled a lawsuit over flour milling with the Archer Daniels Midland processing and trading corporation.

A global agribusiness conglomerate has settled its lawsuit against a Northwest wheat farmers cooperative over the alleged breach of a flour milling contract.

A federal judge has dismissed a complaint filed by the Archer Daniels Midland crop processing and trading corporation against Columbia Plateau Producers of Reardan, Wash., after the parties struck an undisclosed settlement deal.

In 2020, ADM filed a complaint against the cooperative for switching to another milling company, Grain Craft, for processing its sustainably grown Shepherd’s Grain flour products.

The company sought a preliminary injunction to stop the cooperative from changing processors but that request was denied, with U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice ruling that it wasn’t likely to prevail in the lawsuit or suffer irreparable harm without an injunction.

In an answer to ADM’s complaint, the cooperative admitted to terminating the contract but only after the processor had violated the agreement’s terms. The cooperative also filed counterclaims against ADM, alleging that it failed to fulfill processing orders and thus limited the sales growth of Shepherd’s Grain products.

Rather than improve its deficient performance, ADM started a competing “Grower Connect” program that tracked wheat from the farmer to the user, the document said. The processor solicited the cooperative’s farmers and attempted “to take sustainable flour business away from Shepherd’s Grain.”

The problems were compounded by ADM closing a Los Angeles mill that the cooperative relied on to serve bakery customers in Southern California, prompting it to begin doing business with Grain Craft’s nearby flour mill, the document said.

The cooperative sought damages in an amount to be specified at trial from ADM’s alleged breach of contract, as well as compensation for litigation costs.

However, the parties have now agreed to drop the claims and counterclaims without an award of attorney fees or other expenses to either litigant. The settlement deal’s terms were not disclosed in court documents.

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I've been working at Capital Press since 2006 and I primarily cover legislative, regulatory and legal issues.

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