Farmers and elevators will get some of the money they're owed in a grain insovency case | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Farmers and elevators will get some of the money they're owed in a grain insovency case

Nov 1, 2019

Public Service Commissioner Randy Christmann.
Credit PSC

Farmers and elevators who are owed money from grain trader Hunter Hanson will get some money.

But it won’t be enough to make them whole.

Hanson owned Midwest Grain Trading – a roving grain buyer – and NoDak Grain, which had elevators in Tunbridge and  Rohrville. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of money laundering and wire fraud. The case against Hanson says the Devils Lake-based grain trader defrauded at least 60 farmers and other grain brokers in North Dakota, Minnesota and Canada for more than $11 million. The two companies were declared insolvent, and the PSC was named trustee over the companies.

In its recommendation to the Court, the Commission found 45 claims, totaling more than $7.3 million, to be valid – and they would receive just under $1.4 million from Hanson’s trust fund. Commissioner Randy Christmann said that’s about 19 percent of what they’re owed. In addition, 7 creditors who had credit sale contracts would receive about 80 percent - $670,000 out of $837,000 in claims.

"Frankly, I'm a little emotional with this case," Christmann said. "There's been a tragic crime committed, and a lot of people are going to lose a lot of money."

The commissioners say they tried over several Legislative sessions to give them more tools to help farmers who are hurt by this kind of insolvency – to no avail. And this was the last case of its kind the PSC is handling – since grain inspections have been transferred to the state Agriculture Department.

"It breaks my heart," Christmann said. "We're assigned the task of trying to mop up here a little bit, and do the best we can for the victims. But we only have the tools available to us. They're not enough."

A Ramsey County district judge will hold a hearing on the insolvency next June. Hanson awaits sentencing on the federal charges against him.