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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Millner, Dairy Dozen Not Paying Bills; Stiffed Farmers Speak Up

Things keep getting worse for Rick Millner of Veblen and his Dairy Dozen factory feedlot operations. Millner is not only violating federal law; he's also bilking the farmers he does business with. According to a report in AgWeek, since last year, Millner's business has regularly failed to fully pay for livestock feed contracted from farmers around the Five Star Dairy in Milnor, North Dakota. One farmer is selling off equipment to pay the bills that he can't otherwise pay while Dairy Dozen dodges its obligations to him.

“I’m tired of being Five Star’s banker,” says Dan Mund.... As of Oct. 6, Mund says he is owed $80,000 for his 2008 corn crop by Five Star Dairy of Milnor, N.D. Five Star is a 1,600-cow operation that is part of a stable of five larger dairies.

“I just want to be paid and then be left alone,” he says [Mikkel Pates, "Supplier-Farmers Stung by Dairy's Economic Woes," AgWeek, 2009.10.19].

Mund has done business with the nieghboring feedlot since 1997. When Millner bought and expanded the operation in 2006, he told Mund, "I’m the kind of guy you don’t need a contract with... A handshake is good enough.”

Now not even a court order is good enough: a district judge ordered Millner to pay Mund in full back in March; Mund is still waiting for his $80,000.

Millner's feedlots are the sort of business for which our state government does all sorts of favors, including helping rich foreigners jump the immigration queue. Millner's business takes all this state assistance, then fails to pay its bills and leaves its smaller business partners holding the bag.

Millner has proven once again that he just can't operate as a good neighbor. More farmers need to speak up against his abuse of contracts and environmental laws, and our government officials need to take more action to stop these abuses and compensate the folks who have suffered from Millner's anti-social business practices.

Update 2010.01.19: Pates reported that as of November 30, 2009, Mund and Martinson were paid in full. The Carver County (MN) sheriff collected the money for them, requiring Bongards' Creameries to issue payment for a delivery from Five-Star to the sheriff rather than the dairy. The sheriff then transferred the money to the aggrieved farmers.

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