Federal investigators looking into grain marketer's failed crop payments
By Jason Pederson
BRINKLEY (KATV) — It appears the entire Arkansas Delta economy could take a hit as federal investigators are looking into why a grain marketer failed to make payments to farmers for their crops.The total amount of money lost to all Arkansas farmers remains unknown.But we have the story of one farmer and how it is impacting his family. If things go according to plan, David Butcher will start filling grain bins with soybeans next week. Butcher didn't need to store his winter wheat.He contracted with Turner Grain Merchandising, operating out of a Brinkley office at 411 North Main. After harvest, Turner Grain picked up Butcher's crop, sold it to Archer Daniels Midland in Helena, and cut Butcher a check for close to $30,000.The check bounced."It's bad," the McCrory farmer said. "I mean, it's not as bad as some people lost but it's still tough for a small farmer like myself and my family."What happened to Butcher's money, and potentially millions of dollars owed to other Arkansas farmers, remains a mystery. At least two USDA investigators were in Brinkley on Thursday looking through the records of company owners Jason Coleman and Dale Bartlett. Butcher said Turner Grain offered him 15 cents more a bushel than the other broker in town; a deal too good to pass up. A deal that now appear to have been too good to be true. Many states require crop brokers or marketers or dealers to be bonded and insured. What protection does Arkansas offer farmers?"None," Butcher answered. "Absolutely none. They're not bonded or insured. That's what I hope this brings out. That the government will step in and make these people get insured and bonded."Arkansas lawmakers considered a proposal in the early 90's that would have required crop brokers to be licensed and insured, but the effort failed.Lawmakers will look into this matter again Friday at 10:00 a.m. Air date: August 21st, 2014
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