April 6, 2007
Jefferson City, Mo.— A company that helps farmers market their crops will pay more than $78,000 for restitution to two southwest Missouri farmers who weren’t paid for their grain, Attorney General Jay Nixon says. Nixon today obtained court approval of a settlement agreement with CGB Diversified Services of Covington, La. The agreement, approved by Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem, resolves concerns that a CGB franchisee, James Eckhart of Bartlesville, Okla., signed contracts with the farmers to market their grain, but never forwarded to the farmers the money that buyers paid for the crops.
“Missouri farmers and their families are used to facing the challenges of weather and the economy,” Nixon said. “They don’t need the added worry that they won’t be paid for the grain they deliver. Farmers are the backbone of our state’s economy. We’ll continue to protect them and their livelihood.”
One of the victims, who has farmland in southwest Barton County, will receive $59,436 in restitution; the other has farmland in Jasper County and will receive $18,621. Those amounts represent 100 percent restitution for the victims.
In addition, the assurance of voluntary compliance requires CGB Diversified Services to pay $10,000 to the state for the costs of investigating and prosecuting the case. CGB also must ensure that CGB and its franchisees do not accept payment from crop buyers for the sale of crops from CGB marketing clients, and that the proceeds will go directly to the farmers. CGB and its franchisees also are prohibited from taking possession of their marketing clients’ crops.
Nixon said the complaints from the farmers were forwarded to his office by the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Auditor Brian Steward of that department was particularly helpful in providing assistance to investigators and attorneys from the Attorney General’s Office to help reimburse the farmers, Nixon said.