ABERDEEN - An investigator for the South Dakota attorney general’s office has told farmers and elevator operators owed money in the Anderson Seed Inc. insolvency that the case is civil, and criminal charges won’t be filed against Ron and Stephanie Anderson and their Mentor, Minn.-based sunflower processing company.
“Just recently, the Attorney General ruled the case against Anderson Seed to be a civil case,” writes special agent Dave Lunzman, of Aberdeen, in an email to a group of claimants. “With that decision, my involvement in the case is over. I wish I had better news, but with the laws in place at the time, our hands are tied.”
Lunzman referred farmers and others to direct further questions to the attorney general’s office. Messages to the South Dakota attorney general’s office were not immediately returned.
Ray Martinmaas of Orient, whose family lost $47,000 in unpaid sunflowers, says he is disappointed. He has been pressing the Spink County state’s attorney in Redfield to pursue charges against the Andersons, but says he’s run into the same reluctance.
Anderson Seed went insolvent in February 2012, blaming market conditions and failure of some farmers to deliver on contracts. The Andersons sold assets of Anderson Seed and a sister company, St. Hilaire Seed of St. Hilaire, Minn., to Legumex Walker of Seattle, Wash., and Winnipeg, Manitoba. Anderson Seed has receiving stations in North Dakota and a processing plant in Redfield. Farmers and elevator shippers initially estimated $5 million in losses from unpaid shipments in the two states. There were no reported losses at Minnesota elevators.
On Feb. 25, 2014, Cass County, N.D., District Judge Wickham Corwin had ruled on a cash settlement of $965,000 that would cover 43 percent of the $2.23 million in cash claims for sunflowers delivered only to North Dakota elevators. Separate credit-sale contract holders were to receive 80 percent of valid claims in the state, or a net of about $640,000, from a state indemnity fund for credit-sale contracts only. The Public Service Commission, the trustee in the case, expected payments to start in mid-June.