BISMARCK, N.D. - The clock will soon start ticking for farmers and others wishing to file claims against grain trading companies operated by Hunter Hanson of Leeds, N.D.
Courts in Ramsey County and in Burleigh County in late January appointed the North Dakota Public Service Commission as trustee in the warehouse license and roving grain licenses for Hanson.
The PSC soon will post notices in publications seeking farmers and other potential claimants to file proof of claims, including e-mails, scale tickets or other evidence of sales involving NoDak Grain and Midwest Grain Trading, both based in Devils Lake, N.D.
Konrad Crockford, PSC director of compliance, said notices for Midwest Grain Trading, the roving buyer license, must be published weekly for two consecutive weeks in all of the daily newspapers in the state. The notices for the warehouse license only must be published in Pierce and Ramsey counties, where the Tunbridge and Rohrville storage facilities are located, respectively.
People have 45 days after the publication of the second weekly notice to file a claim, Crockford said. Then the PSC will evaluate the claims and determine validity, and the commission will compile a report and recommendation to the court. The report to the court will includes the types of claims that would make claimants eligible for coverage under either the bond or the indemnity fund.
"The other thing we'll begin the process of is to liquidate the grain assets at Rohrville and Tunbridge, the two grain facilities," Crockford said. "We've got to collect grain samples so we understand the quality - whether it's damaged or undamaged - get grades established and market the grain, get a couple of different bids to get the most value for that grain."
Cash sales can be paid from grain inventory and bonds. Credit sale contracts (price-later or delayed-price) may qualify for a state indemnity fund.
"At this time, we don't know if they'd fall under the bond or the indemnity fund categories," said Konrad Crockford, PSC director of compliance.
The bond for the warehouse license totals $315,000 for the facilities at Tunbridge and Rohrville. Hanson had bonds from two companies - $165,000 with Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co., Bala Cynwyd, Pa., and $150,000 with CorePoint Insurance Co., Wilmington, Del.
Separately there is a bond for Midwest Grain Trading of $400,000 with State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., Bloomington, Ill.
In a related matter, Hanson, 21, was set to appear in court at Stanley, N.D., in Mountrail County on Feb. 7, to face criminal charges for writing checks of insufficient funds.
In still another related matter, farmer Roger Harstad of Palermo, N.D., has filed a civil suit against Hanson in Eddy County for issuing an $111,000 check with insufficient funds.