Butch Calhoun Requests Assistance for Turner Grain Farmers

by Lee Hogan  on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 11:58 am  

Grain auger of combine pouring soybean into tractor trailer. (Photo by Shutterstock)

Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Butch Calhoun has requested assistance from his national counterpart, Tom Vilsack, for Arkansas farmers and others in nearby states affected by the unraveling of Turner Grain Merchandising Inc. of Brinkley.

Calhoun asked the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for another extension for farmers delivering their Commodity Credit Corp. grain under a CCC-681-1 to Turner Grain, which has defaulted on payments and left uncertainty in the farming community about whether producers will receive payment for their grain.

Arkansas' agriculture secretary also asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make low-interest emergency loans available to affected farmers.

"Extending the time period for USDA loans and the availability of low-interest emergency loans would allow these producers an opportunity to get back on their feet while complicated legal claims are resolved," a news release from the Department of Agriculture said.

Calhoun told the legislative Joint Committee on Agriculture, Forestry & Economic Development on Friday that he thinks the money at stake could be upwards of $50 million.

The committee approved an interim solution that asked the Farm Service Agency to extend the Commodity Credit Corp. loan repayment period for farmers suffering losses in the Turner fallout.

More: Read a PDF of the resolution: Page 1 and Page 2

"Honestly, there is not much, if anything, that [the Arkansas Legislature] is going to be able to do to address that situation," House Speaker Davy Carter said to farmers during Friday's hearing. "And you need to know that on the front end. I hate it, I'm sorry for you and my heart goes out to you. It's awful."

There are no laws in Arkansas regarding grain merchandising, only regulations pertaining to grain stored in a warehouse. Arkansas lawmakers might address the issue in its next general session, expected to begin in January.

Several sources have told Arkansas Business they expect the Brinkley company to file for bankruptcy protection, although that has not happened yet. Executives with the company have refused multiple inquiries seeking comment.



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