BISMARCK -- North Dakota Public Service Commission officials plan insolvency actions against two grain-related marketing companies in Devils Lake after reports of bounced checks.
Konrad Crockford, PSC director of compliance, on Nov. 15 verified that investigators from the state agency were in the offices of Midwest Grain Trading of Devils Lake, and NoDak Grain, a company with facilities at the former villages of Rohrville and Tunbridge, a location near Rugby. The companies are operated by Hunter Hanson,
Crockford said the investigation and probable action were prompted by complaints from numerous farmers and elevators, reporting checks couldn’t be cashed because of insufficient funds. Complaints started coming in Nov. 9 and, so far, the agency has received complaints from 31 producers and elevators.
Crockford declined to verify a farmer-customer report that the unpaid amount is $2 million “I would say that (figure) is going to be higher than that,” Crockford said, but said exact numbers aren’t yet available.
He said the PSC will go to a court either in Burleigh County in Bismarck, or in Ramsey County, in Devils Lake, to ask a judge to declare the elevator insolvent and then would apply to the court to be named trustee, to gather and distribute assets.
One client complaint has been filed totaling $167,418, for a yellow pea transaction. The amount was owed to the Canadian grain processor as of Oct. 16.
Midwest Grain Trading is a roving grain buyer, licensed since May 2017, meaning it can buy or sell grain but can’t store grain still owned by farmers. Some of the reports about non-sufficient payment involved spring wheat, peas, corn and durum wheat.
NoDak Grain holds warehouse licenses, meaning they can store grain for farmers and charge storage fees. The company has 155,000 bushels of storage near Rohrville, a facility formerly licensed by CHS Inc., and licensed by Hanson since Sept. 11. The 50,000 bushel facility since Tunbridge had not been used for some period of years but has been licensed as a warehouse by Hanson since June 25.
This is the only insolvency being handled by the PSC at this time, Crockford said. The last one was Grand Forks Bean Co., which went insolvent in 2014 and was resolved in October 2017.