Money Matters Pique High Interest
Scandal, theft, acquisitions and grain elevators
There has been a lot happening around the Feed & Grain office over the last few weeks, but there’s always time to reflect on last week's news, most of which focused on cash flow — in terms of benefit payments, business deals and theft.
This week’s top stories are…
- The USDA Paid Millions to Dead Farmers
- The Andersons and Lansing Trade Group Finalize Acquisition of Thompsons Limited
- Biotechnology Companies Launch GMO Answers
- Second Man Pleads Guilty in Massive Corn Theft Case
- ADM and CVA to Build Shuttle Loader Grain Elevator
This scandal couldn’t have come at a worse time for the U.S. Agriculture Department. Auditors say that the USDA paid over $32 million to 4,537 dead farmers. The USDA maintains that the auditors are blowing this out of proportion and that many of those payments were properly made to the descendants of the deceased but were recorded incorrectly. We may never know what really happened, but there is no doubt that this comes at a bad time. Many are misinformed about how farms receive benefits from the current farm bill. Many outside of the agriculture field see it as unnecessary spending. As the recent attempts by the House of Representatives to rein in the EPA shows, there are those in Congress who think that government agencies are out of control, and are looking for any opportunity to cut more out of their budgets. Given the current climate, efforts should be taken to curb these payments, even if the $32 million is only a fraction of the USDA’s $20 billion annual budget.
The Andersons, Inc. and Lansing Trading Group LLC started the acquisition of Thompsons Limited in early June and proceeded with the deal rather quickly. Both companies will own 50% of Thompsons Limited. If you are a customer, it should be business as usual. Thompsons Limited will continue to operate under its own name and serve the same areas. The only real change is that Lansing Trade Group’s trading office in Chatham, Ontario, will be merged with Thompsons.
The GMO debate has gone from stirring under the surface to boiling over in the past few months. New bills requiring labeling are rapidly popping up on the state-level — Illinois is the newest state to wade into the debate, doing so just this week. This is quickly becoming a national issue, and the biotechnology companies are trying to reach out to a population that is turning against GMOs. The well-made website seems to have experts who want to politely give answers to questions. However, this is the Internet, and a polite debate will only last until the first post in the comment section is made.
Our weekend readers must have been catching up on newsletters because this was our top story last week. For some reason, there seems to be a lot of news coming down the pipe about people stealing in agriculture. This week I read about two men who drove off with two trucks full of 50 tons of soybeans and the breaking news lead in Industry Watch’s Aug. 8 edition was about a man who tried to defraud Cargill Inc. out of half a million dollars. With today’s feed and grain facilities employing sophisticated automation systems in their receiving, shipping and billing, it isn’t very likely that these types of crimes will go unnoticed for much longer.
Agriculture is doing well right now, and even with the start of the season getting off to a wet start, the United States is still expected to have a banner year with both corn and soybean crops. And with demand only expected to increase, it makes sense that we see agriculture companies both big and small breaking ground on new projects. This 5-million-bushel shuttle loader/grain elevator will be near Randolph, NE, and is a joint venture between Archer Daniels Midland Company and Central Valley Ag Cooperative. It is expected to be up and running next fall, and who knows, maybe it will be on a future cover of Feed & Grain magazine.
Thanks for reading! Email me if you have any story ideas, comments on what news you want to hear about, or just to say "Hey." Subscribe to Industry Watch, follow us on twitter or like us on Facebook for all the latest news in the industry.