My Dairy Diary
by Sandra Banish
I am JAFW. (Just a Farm Wife) My husband and I farm in the southeastern part of North Dakota. In the spring of 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, Veblen, South Dakota.
I started to get worried when my husband and I did not hear form Veblen East Dairy about payment in December, 2008. The dairy in Veblen, South Dakota chopped our corn for silage in the fall of 2008. Richard Millner from Prairie Ridge Management, Veblen, South Dakota was the individual we made the contracts with, which included a contract for 2008 silage corn which included a late-fee agreement, 2009 corn silage agreement/contract and an oral agreement/ contract for receiving shelled corn from us. This management company manages many dairies including Veblen East Dairy.
In December 2008, my husband spoke with Mr. Millner and it sounded like times were tough to get some form of payment. My husband had emailed Rick Millner several times and I started to email Mr. Millner. We received very few replies.
Now it was January 2009, I sent a reminder that for the contract I signed, partial payment was due.
From January 29 thru February 2, I wrote several emails wondering where the payment was. I received very few responses. The responses came in the form of emails and a few phone calls from Prairie Ridge Management Company. The responses were just comments on how hard Rick Millner was working on the money that was owed to us.
On February 2, 2009 until October 9, 2009, I sent many emails and made numerous calls after calls. 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 due to the late fee in the contract.
Finally on Jan 20, 2010, we contacted an attorney.
We had papers served on the dairy on March 1, 2010.
On March 5, 2010 a receiver from AG Star was appointed to the dairy.
Chapter 11 was filed in July 2010 on Veblen East Dairy; we cannot collect the money that is owed to us because of the bankruptcy protection law.
Now it is August 2010, and the corn is maturing in the field. It is silage chopping time.
No money. Promissory note is due in on Sept. 01, 2010. We cannot collect due to the Bankruptcy Protection Law.
Rumors have it that the dairy may get sold. Then there goes my money.
With the late fee contract, shelled corn that was sold, the promissory note and all the other financial agreements/contracts, the debt that is owed to us is over 1 million dollars.
While looking at the creditor’s list from the South Dakota Bankruptcy Court, it looks like over 300 creditors are listed. The dairy owes many vendors and growers. It looked like we weren’t the only ones that got caught in this web of deception.
The debt is over 60 million dollars.
As a farmer, my husband works hard and grew a product. We had signed contracts. We kept in touch with the dairy. We did everything we could think of to protect us financially except one thing. We should have never done business with the dairy.
We will never do business with the dairy until they make this right with us. I am asking all creditors that have done business with the dairy and that is owed money, stop all transactions with the dairy until you get your account settled.
We have to make a stand.
I believe the way Mr. Richard (Rick) Eugene Millner managed funds from the dairy is in question.
When I got into yelling matches with Mr. Millner., he would always tell me. Sandy, don’t take this to the personal level, I am taking this whole mess very personal. Wouldn’t you?
This dairy has been struggling for a long time. Ag Star Financial Services granted loans last fall (2009) to Veblen East Dairy. I do not understand how Veblen East Dairy could get a loan from Ag Star Financial Services and in 6 months, Ag Star is questioning the loan with a receivership.
Many growers including myself are owed a large sum of money. At this time, I believe an investigation should be done on this situation.
This crumbling situation is causing an economical disaster in the community and the surrounding community. It has caused hardship which includes everyone from the local store owner, to the grower who grows the corn for feed. For 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 South Dakota and its surrounding communities have lost money that should have been theirs.
In reality, Ag Star and the dairies in Veblen, South Dakota 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 and worked hard for it and now we 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, what a mess this situation has become.
I am spear heading 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 form of Escrows. All payment must made and be secured before any choppers enter fields.
May this situation resolve quickly and our community heal without any lasting injuries. Feel free to contact me through email with any comments or questions.
Cayuga North Dakota
wifefarm at yahoo dot com
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