Don't Miss Another Chance (Editorial)

by Arkansas Business Editors  on Monday, Sep. 1, 2014 12:00 am  

At this time of year, farmers in Arkansas should have better things to dwell on than whether they will get paid for the grain they’ve already sold.

But through no fault of their own, a growing number of farmers — at least a dozen at last count — are spending time in lawyers’ offices rather than in the field, crafting civil suits to claim whatever assets may ultimately be left when the dust settles on Turner Grain Merchandising Inc. of Brinkley.

As has been widely reported, Turner Grain is — or was — a “jobber,” a company that contracts to buy grain from farmers, takes possession of the grain, finds a buyer for it and then pays the farmers when the grain is resold. When Turner started missing payments and bouncing checks, those farmers naturally reached out for help: from the courts, from their state government, ultimately even to the federal government.

It came as a surprise to us that a company like Turner wasn’t required to have more protections in place — to be licensed and bonded, at the very least. It was an even bigger surprise that farmers — often big businessmen — continue to do business with so little security.

Real people have already been hurt in real ways by the mismanagement of Turner Grain.

This story is a reminder that, for all the governmental over-reach and over-regulation that certainly exists, there are still places where a bit more regulation needs to be injected. In fact, a bill was introduced more than 20 years ago that would have protected farmers from just such a situation, but it died in committee, the graveyard of so many other good and bad bills over the decades.

We have complete faith that the Arkansas General Assembly will not miss another chance to protect farmers from bad — or perhaps merely incompetent — operators.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.