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Published September 28, 2009, 02:02 PM

Solvency of 3 SD livestock auctions questioned

PIERRE, S.D. - Federal officials are investigating the solvency of three South Dakota livestock auctions.

By: Associated Press, Associated Press

PIERRE, S.D. - Federal officials are investigating the solvency of three South Dakota livestock auctions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration filed a complaint against McLaughlin Livestock Inc., Mitchell Livestock Auction Inc. and Watertown Sales Barn Inc. The complaint says the liabilities of the three barns exceed their assets.

The auctions will get a chance to defend themselves at a hearing. State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven, who is executive director of the South Dakota Animal Industry Board, says if the allegations are proven, the auctions could be suspended and fined.

When the complaints were filed in late August, all three of the barns were fully or partially owned by Joey Varner of Pierz, Minn. He faces a charge in Codington County of aggravated grand theft for allegedly taking 188 cattle that were under U.S. Bankruptcy Court control. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Mitchell auction has since been sold.

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