Salamonie Mills
Salamonie Mills
Farmers’ reimbursable losses for the failures of Salamonie Mills and Agland Grain amount to more than $9.2 million, and that figure doesn’t include more than 30 farmers that have been determined to be outside the window for funds under state law.

Copies of the findings of fact and final orders for both companies were provided to The News-Banner this month. The deadlines to dispute both orders — issued by the Indiana Grain Buyers & Warehouse Licensing Agency and signed by the agency’s director Harry Wilmoth — have expired. Agland’s order was dated in early September and Salamonie Mills — where the bulk of the losses are noted — was dated the end of October.

Combined, the documents list 202 farmers or groups impacted by the grain elevator companies’ closures. The farmers come from multiple counties — not limited to Wells and Huntington, which is where the companies had locations — and the individual reimbursements range from a couple dollars or a couple hundred dollars to tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

However, for the 32 claimants that were found to be outside the 15 months allowable under state law for reimbursement, their losses were not stated.

State statute only allows for farmers to be reimbursed for grain delivered up to 15 months before the failure date. The failure date for both was set at March 20, which dates the eligible reimbursement window back to Dec. 20, 2018.

Even then, depending on the type of loss, the reimbursement could be only up to 80 percent of the total amount.

The documents also provide a look into some of the companies’ practices and how they handled farmers’ accounts.

For at least 17 claimants, Salamonie Mills records indicated farmers were paid in full for their grain. But when the Grainbuyers and Licensing Agency confirmed the payments with farmers, the agency learned checks had bounced due to “insufficient funds” or were never released, the documents show.

The adjustments made to incorporate those losses total more than $1.1 million alone.

One claimant had his check from Salamonie Mills bounce but state law prevents the agency from considering grain purchased from the company as reimbursable.

In one dispute on the pricing the state used, a claimant said the signature found on a pricing agreement was not his. That adjustment resulted in more than $4,380 going to the farmer.

Six Salamonie Mills claimants and one from Agland requested the failure date be changed. Two suggested mid-January of this year because that’s when the company defaulted on its loans from the bank. One suggested December 2019. Another suggested a failure date of January 2019, which “would be logical based on insufficient funds check issued by the company before January of 2019,” the document said.

That claimant also alleged the company did not apply “first in first out” practices when processing settlements. This means the company sold newer grain before older grain. This allegation has been raised before to the state, and four Salamonie Mills claimants said the wrong grain was sold. At least three of them had their reimbursement amount affected.

The state cited an “unknown reason” for that method of payment in two incidents. But when the farmers disputed it with the state, they were told that anywhere from 12 to 47 weeks had passed between the date of payment and the company’s date of failure, giving them “sufficient time to raise the issue directly with the company, but they did not.”

Citing precedent set in 2016, the state said: “It is a producer’s responsibility to confirm how his or her bushels of grain are sold before accepting payment, and not something the agency should address or adjust after the fact.”

It is not clear whether the farmers were aware of the payment disparities prior to the companies’ failures.

Wilmoth said during a hearing in March that any disputes regarding the final orders will be sent to a third party for review and if resolutions are still not reached, the claims will go through court. He said partial payments for those who were in agreement could begin after the orders were issued.
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