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GREEN BAY - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today a $100,000 Consent Judgment with Bowers Feed and Grain, Inc. ("Bowers"), a Brown County grain warehouse keeper and dealer. In addition to the payment of forfeitures, the Judgment requires Bowers and its owner, Jim Vandenberg, to come into compliance with the State's grain security laws within ten days or face additional penalties. The Judgment also imposes significant injunctive relief to ensure the company's future compliance with the State's grain security laws.
The Judgment resolves a three-year investigation into Bowers' violations of the State's grain security laws, which was led by Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection ("DATCP"). The State's grain security laws require, among other things, that grain dealers are licensed and, if not, that the grain dealer pay cash on delivery for all producer grain it purchases. In addition, the grain security laws require that no grain warehouse keeper hold at any time more than 50,000 bushels of grain for others without a current annual license from DATCP. The purpose of the laws is to protect farmers who store their grain with warehouses, or sell grain to dealers, by ensuring that the warehouse or dealer maintains sufficient stores of grain to return to the farmer, or has the funds to pay the farmer when the grain is sold. Bowers holds neither a grain dealer's license nor a grain warehouse keeper's license, yet it has repeatedly failed to pay cash on delivery for grain and continuously stores more than 50,000 bushels of grain.
In the fall of 2008, DATCP issued a Special Summary Order against Bowers for its continued lack of compliance with the State's grain security laws. After Bowers continued to violate the State's grain security laws and consequently, DATCP's Special Summary Order, DATCP referred the case to the Department of Justice for enforcement.
The Department of Justice's settlement with Bowers requires that the company immediately obtain the required amount of grain in storage, and enjoins the company from purchasing grain from producers for a period of fifteen months. In addition, the company is enjoined from obtaining a grain warehouse or dealer license until September 2011.
If you have any questions or complaints about this company's practices, please forward those to Jeremy McPherson, Director Bureau of Business Trade Practices, DATCP, at 608‑224 4922.
Assistant Attorney General Lara A. Sutherlin represented the State in this case, and investigative assistance was provided by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.