Big Bankruptcy Hits Home for Missouri Farmers
SALINE COUNTY - Many unknowns remain this spring after a major bankruptcy hit the farming industry last fall. MF Global, a major player in the futures and commodities industry, filed for bankruptcy on October 31, 2011.
A series of hearings over the past months have sought to uncover $1.6 billion in missing money. And as a result, many in Missouri agriculture are looking at unexpected losses this year.
"They do know. I just have to believe they do know who was involved. Where the money went. Who approved what transactions. I guess it does make me a little nervous it's taken them as long as it has, but I guess, ultimately I'm optmistic that they'll get it back," said Russell McKinney of Ham Hill Farms in Saline County.
Ham Hill has been farmed by the Sandidge family right outside of Marshall for decades, raising hogs and farming grain.
Brent Sandidge, whose father passed the farm onto him, said this crisis was something almost unheard of in the farming industry.
"You hear something that you didn't worry about at all. You thought it was safe. And then you find out that it's not. That somebody's taken it from you," Sandidge said.
In town, another grain bin, Central Missouri Agri-Service, has taken big hits as well. General Manager John Fletcher, who testified at an MF Global hearing in November, said they were initially expecting to get 90 percent of funds back. Now they are being told the numbers may be more like 80 percent.
According to Fletcher, this amounts to "tens of thousands of dollars" the company is waiting on.
"What we're exposed to now is half what a normal year's earnings are for the company," Fletcher said.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has attempted to aid those hurt in Missouri, although the issue is being handled largely at the federal level. Representatives with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission said the matter is still under investigation. Much of the information regarding monetary distribution, trial dates, and contact information for the trustee in the case, is available here.
For now, it is a waiting game, and John Fletcher is cautious in his expectations.
"I think they'll find out where the money went but I don't know that it will ever come to light, because of where it went."