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Published September 07, 2010, 09:23 AM

SD dairy’s debts need to be paid

CAYUGA, N.D. — I am just a farm wife. My husband and I farm in the southeastern part of North Dakota. In spring 2008, we grew 1,000 acres of corn. The corn that was grown on our farm was contracted for silage chopping with Veblen East Dairy in Veblen, S.D.

By: Sandra Banish,

CAYUGA, N.D. — I am just a farm wife. My husband and I farm in the southeastern part of North Dakota. In spring 2008, we grew 1,000 acres of corn. The corn that was grown on our farm was contracted for silage chopping with Veblen East Dairy in Veblen, S.D.

The Veblen dairy chopped our corn for silage in fall 2008. I started to worry when my husband and I did not hear form Veblen East Dairy about payment in December 2008.

Richard Millner from Prairie Ridge Management in Veblen was the individual with whom we made the contracts, which included a contract for 2008 silage corn, which included a late-fee agreement, 2009 corn silage agreement/contract and an oral agree-ment/contract for receiving shelled corn from us. This management company manages many dairies including Veblen East Dairy.

In December 2008, my husband spoke with Millner and it sounded like times were tough to get some form of payment. I sent a reminder in January 2009 that, for the contract I signed, partial payment was due. The responses during the next few months were comments on how hard Millner was working on the money that was owed to us. I sent many e-mails and made numerous calls between Feb. 2 and Oct. 9, 2009, but I received very few responses. Finally, we received a partial payment for the 2008 silage.

There was still a large amount that was owed to us by the dairy. There were the other agreements/contracts that never were addressed. This debt was growing every day because of the late fee in the contract.

Chapter 11 was filed in July 2010 on Veblen East Dairy. We cannot collect the money owed to us because of the bankruptcy protection law. Now, the corn is maturing in the field. It is silage chopping time — no money.

Rumors have it that the dairy may get sold. If so, then there goes my money. While looking at the creditor’s list from the South Dakota Bankruptcy Court, it looks like more than 300 creditors are listed. The dairy owes many vendors and growers. It looks like we weren’t the only ones that got caught in this web of deception.

Taking a stand

We did everything we could think of to protect ourselves financially except one thing: We never should have done business with the dairy.

This dairy has been struggling for a long time. Ag Star Financial Services granted loans last fall to Veblen East Dairy. I do not understand how Veblen East Dairy could get a loan from Ag Star Financial Services and six months later, Ag Star is questioning the loan with a receivership.

This crumbling situation is causing an economic disaster in this community and the surrounding communities.

It has caused hardships that include everyone from the local store owner to the grower who grows the corn for feed. Every dollar that was taken away from the local community and put into the hands of an attorney who has no ties to this area is a dollar that is gone from the community. That dollar will not circulate and be spent at the local store or given to a local charity. Veblen and its surrounding communities have lost money that should have been theirs. In reality, Ag Star and the dairies in Veblen are not very popular around here and the money that is being paid to all the attorneys on both sides is very disheartening to the ones who are owed money.

My husband and I grew a product, worked hard for it and are owed a large amount of money. This does not sit right with me. The only thing at this time I can do is to inform anybody who wants to listen about the mess this situation has become.

I am spearheading a campaign of “Just Say No to Moo.” No selling of corn in any shape or form to the dairy without a settlement of all past debts that are owed and full payment of the new crop. All payments must be in the form of a wire transfer — no escrow. All payment must be made and be secured before any choppers enter fields.

May this situation resolve quickly and our community heal without any lasting injuries.

Information: Sandra Banish 14384 99th St. S.E. Cayuga, N.D. 58013 or wifefarm@yahoo.com

Editor’s Note: Banish and her husband farm in Cayuga, N.D.

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