ODA blocks two grain operations

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REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio – Action by the Ohio Department of Agriculture has resulted in the suspension of the commodity handler’s license of one mill and a court order barring a grain handler from further operations.

Ohio Agriculture Director Fred L. Dailey suspended the agricultural commodity handler’s license of Austinburg Mill Inc. of Austinburg in Ashtabula County June 1 after it failed to submit financial information to the department as required by law.

The suspension makes it now illegal for the company to do business as a commodity handler.

Farmers with grain deposited at Austinburg Mill should call the department’s Grain Warehouse Section at 1-800-282-1955 or 614-728-6410.

Assets, obligations weighed. Department grain inspectors will begin to review the company’s grain assets and its obligations to grain depositors to determine its effect on area farmers and help them in the event that they have incurred any losses.

The department’s Grain Warehouse Section licenses and regulates agricultural commodity handlers in Ohio.

Grain ordered removed. The Madison County Court of Common Pleas has permanently restricted a Madison County grain handler from further operations under Ohio’s Agricultural Commodity Handler Law.

Joe Miller, owner of J & S Farms Grain, 4060 A. W. Wilson Rd., Plain City, was ordered to stop handling grain without a license and to notify all customers to claim their grain and remove it from the facility.

This action stemmed from a lawsuit filed against Miller Feb. 9 by the Ohio Department of Agriculture in which the state asked the court to order Miller to stop handling grain without a license.

License suspended. Miller lost his license April 24, 2002, when he failed to submit acceptable financial records to the state.

As a result of a subsequent visit to the facility Jan. 23, 2004, by state inspectors to examine subpoenaed business records, inspectors alleged that that Miller was engaging in commodity handling activities, including storing approximately 50,000 bushels of grain deposited by other farmers, and charging a fee to dry and condition grain for depositors.

By law, all licensed grain handlers are required to meet certain net worth requirements, verified by financial statements submitted annually to the department.

Insurance required. Licensed handlers are also required to have insurance coverage equal to full market value all grain in their facilities to protect all parties from possible financial losses.

The state ag department also administers an indemnity fund from which eligible farmers are reimbursed when a licensed elevator becomes insolvent.

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