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Ruling: SD seed case not criminal: Payments for ND farmers in the works

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news Dickinson, 58602
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

ABERDEEN, S.D. — 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  company.

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“Just recently, the Attorney General ruled the case against Anderson Seed to be a civil case,” wrote special agent Dave Lunzman of Aberdeen, S.D., 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.

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, S.D. 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 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.

Kevin Kessel, a Belfield, farmer who was owed $149,000, but who expects payment of $89,000 in the settlement from both cash and credit contracts, said he contacted his attorney because there had been no payment as of June 24. Kessel said the attorney had contacted the PSC, which assured him checks would be cut by June 27.

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