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TDA Takes Action Against Grain Warehouse to Protect Farmers From Fraud (2/4/2015)

AUSTIN – Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller today reminds Texas grain producers to be diligent when selecting a warehouse to store their grain to avoid potential losses from unscrupulous business practices. As the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) oversees the liquidation of stored grain at Bee Agriculture Company due to violations of grain warehouse regulations, farmers are reminded that TDA licenses and regulates public grain warehouses to protect Texas grain depositors.

“The Texas Department of Agriculture protects the interests of our farmers, and we’re not backing down,” said Commissioner Miller. “I want all consumers, including our farmers and ranchers, to know that we’re working hard to make sure you get what you pay for and people don’t rip you off. Grain producers are a vital part of our agriculture industry. My team and I will do everything in our power to ensure these hard-working men and women are protected against shortcomings like what has happened at Bee Agriculture Company.”

The purpose of TDA’s Grain Warehouse Program is to protect producers who deposit their grain in public storage. Regulation of grain warehouses is intended to ensure the quality and quantity of grain stored for farmers and other depositors is maintained. While TDA licenses grain warehouses, it does not license grain dealers.

Last summer, TDA received complaints that grain producers were not receiving payments from Bee Agriculture Company. Immediately TDA inspectors launched an investigation, and violations were uncovered at all of the company’s locations. Over the last year, TDA increased its monitoring of Bee Agriculture Company by requiring the company to periodically submit daily position reports for stored grain. Additionally, Bee Agriculture Company had to request permission in writing from TDA prior to moving any grain in or out of their warehouses. Subsequently, the company relinquished their grain warehouse licenses to TDA for all of their facilities, and TDA sealed their grain bins.

TDA has been working to liquidate the remaining open storage grain in Bee Agriculture Company’s warehouses. Additionally, TDA is aiding farmers by assisting with the logistical work necessary to finish the liquidation process and accepting claims for grain held in storage. TDA efforts are aimed at helping avoid losses for Texas farmers. TDA also is providing local authorities with information that could lead to further criminal charges.   

“Our agency has stepped in to safeguard Texas farmers,” said Commissioner Miller. “We aren’t stopping here either. My team and I are working with the Legislature to beef up all of our fraud protection services to ensure all Texans receive the protection they rightfully deserve.”

TDA plays a vital role in safeguarding Texas consumers and agriculture producers. A proposal has been submitted to the Texas Legislature for the creation of a Fraud Investigation Team to substantially increase TDA’s fraud detection initiatives and develop fraud-reduction programs to further enhance consumer protection.

Grain producers who feel they have an outstanding claim for unpaid open storage grain obligations at a Bee Agriculture Company warehouse should contact TDA’s Grain Warehouse Program at (512) 936-2430. The deadline to file a claim is Feb. 15, 2015.