Avon elevator faces regulators’ action

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — There’s money trouble in another small South Dakota community.

Farmers Cooperative Elevator at Avon couldn’t obtain another bond and therefore wasn’t able to renew its state Class A grain-buyer and warehouse licenses July 1.

The elevator’s weak financial condition and the potential danger posed to grain producers have led the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission to schedule an emergency meeting Friday, July 9, at 8 a.m. CT.

The commission at that time will consider asking a circuit court for receivership to better ensure all producers are paid.

Many of the documents in the commission’s docket aren’t available to the public.

Secretary of State records show the elevator’s most-recent slate of officers as president Charlie Zacharias of rural Wagner, vice president Mark Buchholz of rural Wagner, secretary Stacy Frank of rural Tripp, and treasurer Douglas Koupal of rural Dante.

Wrote commission staff attorney Kristen Edwards to the commissioners, “Due to financial difficulties, Staff began working with FCE and FCE’s bank in early 2019. While significant progress was made, FCE’s inability to meet licensing requirements at this point result in Staff no longer being able to work with FCE.

“While FCE is in a much better position to pay producers than it was in 2019, due to the rate at which FCE is now losing money, it is imperative to take receivership in order to protect producers.”

This is the 10th action against grain buyers and warehouses since 2017. There were none in 2015 and 2016.

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