UPDATE: Questions on commodity brokering of farm crops | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, August 16, 2014

UPDATE: Questions on commodity brokering of farm crops

Posted By on Sat, Aug 16, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Brokers' office in Brinkley.
  • Brokers' office in Brinkley.

The Times was working yesterday on the scandal Speaker Carter wrote about. The brokerage firm raising questions was identified by farmers we spoke to as Turner Grain in Brinkley, owned by Jason Coleman and Dale Bartlett. 

Most farmers we spoke to would not go on the record. But Chris Isbell, a rice farmer in Lonoke County we've written about because of his sake rice crop, confirmed he had a contract with Turner Grain and had not been paid. He declined to say how much he stood to lose if he wasn't paid or to say more about his business dealings with the broker, because “we don’t know which direction” the situation is going. “Nobody has refused to pay; we just haven’t been paid,” Isbell said.

A soybean farmer we talked to who asked not to be identified confirmed what the Times had been told by another source in Brinkley, and said he feared the company would have to go into bankruptcy. “I can pretty much assure you this is a big deal,” the farmer said.

Turner Grain does business with major rice and grain buyers like KBX and Tyson, the soybean farmer said. He said he stands to lose $500,000 if the business can’t pay at the price his contract was for, since soybean prices have fallen since he entered the contract. He added that 60 to 75 percent of the farmers in Monroe and other farming counties have done business with Turner Grains “on some level.”

Another rice farmer said, “Quite honestly, I was stunned to hear the news,” and he and the bean farmer who talked to the Times described Coleman and Bartlett as “good guys.” 

Efforts to reach either Coleman or Bartlett at Turner Grain have been unsuccessful; a message was left with a gentleman who answered the phone at the business. The Times was not able to confirm information from informants that some growers’ checks bounced.

Another source said that speculation in Brinkley was that the late corn crop had hurt Turner Grains’ cash flow. The corn should have been harvested in late spring, but because of late planting and the wet summer, is just now starting to come in.

Though it handles millions in contracts, the business is run out of a small office on Main Street in Brinkley and one farmer said he suspected the books were “sloppy.” “There had to be a mistake somewhere,” he said. “Major league. But as far as a scam, nothing could be further from the truth.”

The farmer also said that impact would reach beyond the farmers. “Anyone you talk to, from farmers to merchants to ag pilots, it’s going to affect everybody, especially rice and corn country in our area. It’s not just people owed money from a crop, but for contracts of grain to be delivered this fall that more and likely won’t be honored. … One owner did tell me if they could pay everyone that they owed it would be a miracle.” He said banks were “pretty antsy.”

One source said that Coleman had gotten threats at his business, but the Brinkley Police Department did not return a call from the Times to confirm that. 

Commodity brokers in Arkansas are not required to be bonded, Cynthia Edwards, deputy secretary at the state Agriculture Department, said. 

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (16)

Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • No Red Cross number on the wall? For shame, Planned Parenthood

    It would be interesting to know why Arkansas Department of Health inspectors have, for the first time, been concerned whether there is a Red Cross phone number posted in clinics that provide abortion services.
    • Dec 14, 2017
  • No more net neutrality: FCC votes along party lines in favor of telecom companies

    As expected, the FCC today voted along party lines 3-2 to dump net neutrality and allow broadband providers to block or slow upload of websites and charge for certain content and high-quality delivery.
    • Dec 14, 2017
  • Tech Park 2.0: Architects present for next phase

    The three finalists in the Little Rock Technology Park's search for an architect to design the next phase of park development — a six-story, 100,000-square-foot building on the empty lot between the park, at 417 Main St., and the KATV, Channel 7, building at 401 Main — presented to the board this afternoon.
    • Dec 13, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • LR speakers blast state board for double standard

    A series of speakers, beginning with Sen. Joyce Elliott, denounced what they saw as a hidden agenda favoring charter schools at the state Department of Education and asked the state Board of Education for return of local control.
    • May 12, 2016
  • Arkansan on Obama's latest commutation list

    President Obama today announced commutations of the sentences of 111 federal prisoners, including one from Arkansas.
    • Aug 30, 2016
  • Saturday's open line

    Got any thoughts? Put them here.
    • May 21, 2016

Most Shared

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation