PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A South Dakota grain cooperative is under government scrutiny because it doesn’t have a state grain-buyer license.

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission has opened an official docket regarding South Dakota Hutterian Co-Operative of Aberdeen.

Commission staff are looking into soybean sales the co-op has made to processor AGP in recent years. They have been corresponding with the co-op’s attorney, Jeffrey Sveen of Aberdeen, since June 21.

“I suppose at the end of the day, what we at the PUC need to figure out is who the grain buyer is –
the cooperative or AGP – and make sure that entity is properly licensed,” PUC staff attorney Kristen Edwards wrote on July 5.

Sveen in a July 11 response wrote:

“If the PUC’s intent is for the Coop to merely purchase a Grain Buyer’s License, even though I disagree that would apply to the Coop, it is something the Coop can consider,” he wrote. “However, if the intent of PUC is to alter to the Coop’s relationship with AGP that has worked well for over 30 years and impose bonds and other regulations upon a closed entity only open to religious members, then that is a different circumstance.”

Cody Chambliss is the commission’s grain warehouse manager. In his July 15 complaint, Chambliss said the cooperative has sold in excess of $50 million of soybeans in one year to AGP. He said all other cooperatives in South Dakota that sell untreated grain to AGP have state licenses.

The co-op doesn’t have a central physical location. Instead, the individual colonies deliver the beans to AGP in the name of the co-op, according to a commission spokesperson.

Business records show the co-op president as Elmer Hofer of Graceville, Minnesota, and John Wipf of Alexandria, South Dakota, as vice president, secretary and treasurer.