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Published December 04, 2013, 08:19 AM

North Dakota settlement proposed in Anderson Seed case

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Jan. 6 hearing has been scheduled at the Cass County Courthouse in Fargo on a proposed settlement in the case of a failed seed company.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Jan. 6 hearing has been scheduled at the Cass County Courthouse in Fargo on a proposed settlement in the case of a failed seed company.

Mentor, Minn.-based Anderson Seed Co. shut down its insolvent sunflower processing facility in Redfield, S.D., in 2012 without paying farmers for millions of dollars' worth of delivered seeds.

North Dakota's Public Service Commission late last month approved a proposed settlement in which farmers with cash claims will get about 43 percent of what they are owed and those with credit sale claims will get about 80 percent.

Valid claims total about $3 million, according to state regulators.

South Dakota's Public Utilities Commission last year got a judge's approval to use a $100,000 bond posted by Anderson Seed to give partial payments to farmers in that state who lost about $2.6 million. Some farmers criticized regulators and called for reform in bonding laws.

North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Randy Christmann said in announcing the proposed North Dakota settlement in late November that it was preferable to a drawn-out legal battle.

"Litigation would delay payment to the farmers by possibly years and there is always a risk involved with litigation; therefore, I am confident the commission's decision to reach a settlement is in the best interest of the farmers," he said in a statement. "Even if litigation were to result in a verdict that exceeds the amount of the settlement, collection of that amount is not guaranteed."

Farmers can file objections to the proposed settlement until 10 days before the Jan. 6 court hearing, according to Agweek. Fargo lawyer Mike Gust, who is representing nearly 20 farmers in the case, declined comment to Agweek until he could further study the proposal.

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