SD Public Utilities Commission suspends license of seed company with Redfield branchPIERRE — A seed company’s grain buyers license was suspended by a South Dakota commission Friday because officials believe the company has failed to pay farmers $2.6 million for sunflowers delivered to its operation in Redfield.
By: CHET BROKAW, The Associated Press
PIERRE — A seed company’s grain buyers license was suspended by a South Dakota commission Friday because officials believe the company has failed to pay farmers $2.6 million for sunflowers delivered to its operation in Redfield.
The Public Utilities Commission also ordered its staff to conduct a full audit of Anderson Seed Co., which is based in Mentor, Minn. The commission’s staff also will investigate to determine what happened and assess the company’s current financial condition.
Commission officials said a lawyer for Anderson Seed sent word that the company did not object to the suspension of its license.
Unless the company requests a hearing, its license will be revoked in two weeks, officials said.
Jim Mehlhaff, director of the PUC’s Grain Warehouse Division, said suspending Anderson Seeds’ license will at least protect farmers from further harm by preventing the company from accepting any more sunflowers at its Redfield operation. The division also will explore ways to help farmers who haven’t been paid for grain that’s already been delivered, but Mehlhaff said no grain can be recovered at the Redfield site because Anderson Seeds doesn’t store grain there.
PUC Chairman Chris Nelson said the commission will do all it can to help farmers recover losses.
“I have great respect for the producers in our state. When I see them being taken advantage of, which is apparently the case here, I’m greatly concerned,” Nelson said.
Neither Anderson Seeds owner Ron Anderson nor the company’s lawyer took part in Friday’s commission meeting. The lawyer did not immediately return a call requesting comment.
Mehlhaff said Legumex Walker of Winnipeg, Manitoba, recently bought some assets of Anderson Seed, but not the Redfield operation.
Mehlhaff said he received complaints in January from farmers who had not been paid for sunflowers they had delivered to Anderson Seed, but those farmers were later paid. After a new round of complaints in February, the company failed to pay farmers, he said.