Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

December 7, 2010

Eastern fallout continues

Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — Officials with area livestock operations report they have picked up extra business from cattle producers who would normally sell their livestock to markets owned by Eastern Livestock.

Eastern Livestock, an Indiana livestock company that did business with some local livestock producers, is under state and federal investigation for allegedly writing bad checks to producers. An effort has also been launched to determine if the livestock company violated state laws by failing to pay producers.

Producers who have sold animals with Eastern Livestock in the past are doing business with other local livestock operations, such as Farmers Market in Glasgow.

“We’re getting the spill off over it. We’re getting several head. I’d say it’s bumped it up about 10 percent,” said Darrell Loy, owner of Farmers Market. “Our main concern is the farmers. We hate that some of them got cold checks with the holidays coming up and payments coming up. It’s left them in bad financial crisis. Our hearts go out to them. It’s not something that a lot of them will overcome.”

Farmers Market had no affiliation with Eastern Livestock, however, Loy does own livestock operations in Russell and Pulaski counties.

Marty Lile, manager of the Barren River Livestock Center in Warren County, said he, too, is seeing an increase in the number of producers selling their cattle and thinks it is because those producers who normally did business with operations owned by Eastern Livestock are now coming to his business to sell their cattle. He estimates his business has experienced a 20 percent increase.

Lile hears producers grumble about the situation Eastern Livestock left them in.

“I try to be optimistic as I can,” he said. “I think they will get part of their money back. They may not, but I think they will recoup most of their monies.”

The Barren River Livestock Center offers producers affected by the Eastern Livestock situation an alternative with financing.

“We have financing ourselves. We can help them with some of their financial [problems],” he said. “It’s going to be devastating to several producers.”

David Burch, county executive director for the Barren-Metcalfe County FSA, said he talked to one young farmer who is still in high school. The farmer sold his cattle and the check he received was worthless.

“I think the consensus among several people is that the cattle that was sold this time of year was sold to pay bills and if something doesn’t happen for some type of reimbursement, there could be some auctions next year — a very sad situation,” he said.

As for assistance lending institutions may be able to offer to those who sold their cattle to pay bills, one local bank is doing what it can to help producers.

“We’ve had here in Barren County several of our customers who had checks. We are working with each individual customer to get them through this situation,” said Tommy Jackson, community president of Barren County for Edmonton State Bank. “We are extending payments to our customers if they have a need to do so.”

An agriculture lending agency with a branch office in Glasgow, Farm Credit Services, is prohibited to speak directly about its customer relationships due to federal regulations.

“We are, however, committed to continuing to create long-term relationships with our customers that have a lasting positive impact in their business and personal lives,” said Leigh Picchetti, vice president of public relations for Farm Credit Services.