Livestock dealer faces charges for unpaid purchases totaling $90,000

SALEM, Ohio – A northeast Ohio livestock dealer is involved in a USDA investigation involving unpaid livestock purchases totaling more than $90,000.

David H. Harris of Ashland, Ohio, is registered under the Packers and Stockyards Act as a dealer buying and selling livestock in commerce for his own account.

He allegedly failed to make prompt payments for livestock purchases, did not have full records of transactions and issued scale tickets that were not serially numbered.

Proceeds from Harris’s $40,000 surety bond were distributed to unpaid livestock sellers in January 2001 on a prorated basis. He reportedly still owes $92,793.91, according to Leah Akbar, public affairs agent with the stockyard administration.

Harris said he has since paid a portion of that amount and now owes approximately $70,000. He told Farm and Dairy it will not be a problem to pay the rest.

Initial charges. The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration issued the administrative complaint against Harris and his business, Harris Livestock, March 27, 2002.

Harris responded to the complaint and signed a Consent Decision Procedure, he said, which relinquishes his opportunity for an oral hearing.

Although by signing this decision, Harris admitted his guilt, he said he did not agree with everything in the complaint. However, he said he did not think the “bottom line” would be changed and he wanted the matter “taken care of as soon as possible.”

Harris’ license was suspended for up to five years. If he repays the livestock sellers in a timely manner, he may get his license back in two years, he said.

Harris said he is no longer operating and currently does not have livestock.

Another investigation. An unrelated U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation in December 2000 found that a slaughtered cow from Harris’ operation had illegal amounts of penicillin present in its body.

The penicillin tolerance level for cows slaughtered for use as human food is .05 parts per million; the level in Harris’ cow was 1.62 parts per million.

The investigation also found that Harris medicated his cattle with the drug Excenel without prescription. Further investigation found that he did not keep adequate records for his medicated animals.

After the investigation, Harris said he would discontinue the use of Excenel unless he receives it from a veterinarian; begin keeping the necessary medical records; and create a policy for preventing the sale of medicated animals for slaughter.

Protection accounts. The stockyard administration’s Packers and Stockyards Programs are specifically for the financial protection of the livestock, meat and poultry market.

To protect livestock sellers from buyers who fail to make timely payments, the Packers and Stockyards Act includes payment protection. This protection requires the use of custodial accounts.

“Market agencies that sell livestock on a commission basis are required to establish and maintain, for the benefit of livestock sellers, a Custodial Account for Shippers’ Proceeds bank account,” according to the stockyard administration.

Audit results. These accounts are audited at least every three years. Since the program’s start in 1991, 3,328 accounts have been audited.

“Shortages totaling $35.6 million were found in 1,047 accounts,” according to the stockyard administration. “Of those markets with custodial shortages, 785 restored a total of $23.9 million, thereby averting potential catastrophic losses to livestock sellers.”

“Prompt payment is a significant element of the financial protection afforded producers under the Act and is an integral part of the packer trust, which provides protection to producers who fail to receive payment from meat packers,” according to the stockyard administration.

(You can contact Kristy Alger at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at kalger@farmanddairy.com.)


Sugarcreek, Ohio, stockyard dealer owes $280,000

Stockyard dealer Wayne W. Coblentz of Sugarcreek, Ohio, owes $281,970.90 in unpaid livestock purchases.

SALEM, Ohio – Stockyard dealer Wayne W. Coblentz of Sugarcreek, Ohio, owes $281,970.90 in unpaid livestock purchases.

After receiving an administrative complaint Sept. 26, 2001, from the USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, Coblentz had 20 days to file an answer to the allegations. Failure to answer constitutes an admission of the allegations, according to the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Coblentz did not answer the allegation until after the 20 days. His request for an oral argument was denied, said Leah Akbar, public affairs agent with the stockyard administration.

According to a default decision issued April 12, 2002, Coblentz is now ordered to stop issuing checks with insufficient funds and must pay the amount in a timely manner, Akbar said.

He is also suspended as a registrant under the act for five years. Akbar said the suspension may be lifted after 150 days with proof that the named livestock dealers were paid in full.

– Kristy Alger

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