FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer and Attorney General Jack Conway have joined efforts to determine whether Eastern Livestock Company has broken any Kentucky state laws in connection with its failure to pay hundreds of Kentucky cattlemen. Farmer and Conway are also collaborating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Kentucky, to assist in the federal investigation of Eastern Livestock.
Eastern Livestock, a market agency based in New Albany, Ind., has failed to pay producers for up to $130 million of livestock it has purchased, failed to pay for livestock in a timely fashion, and failed to maintain an adequate bond, according to an administrative complaint filed against Eastern Livestock by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) on Nov. 19. Fifth Third Bank of Cincinnati has filed suit against Eastern Livestock, and the Hamilton County (Ohio) Common Pleas Court has appointed a receiver.
“Many Kentucky farmers are deeply upset over this turn of events,” Commissioner Farmer said. “For many producers, the amount of money involved is a significant part of their livelihoods. I will work with the Attorney General to determine if any state laws were broken, and we will pursue this case to the fullest extent of the law.”
Cattle producers who have done business with Eastern Livestock and have not received payment due from Eastern are encouraged to contact GIPSA’s Midwest Regional Office in Des Moines, Iowa, to find out about their rights under the bond provisions of the Packers and Stockyards Act. Producers may contact the GIPSA regional office at (515) 323-2579 for complete information on available financial protections and for forms necessary for filing a bond claim on payments due from Eastern. Bond claims must be filed within 60 days from the date of the transaction on which the claim is based.
Affected producers are requested to file a complaint with the Kentucky Office of Attorney General by calling (502) 696-5300 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
“I strongly encourage Kentucky farmers who are owed money by Eastern Livestock to assist in the investigation by filing a complaint through my Office of Consumer Protection,” Attorney General Conway said. “We are mobilizing all of our resources to identify Kentucky’s farmers who have been victimized by Eastern Livestock and to help with the federal investigation.”
Eastern Livestock allegedly began issuing unfunded checks to producers for livestock purchased in different markets on or around Nov. 3. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture revoked Eastern Livestock’s license to operate in Kentucky after GIPSA filed its administrative complaint.
One of the largest cattle brokerage companies in the United States, Eastern Livestock has operations in 11 states across the Mid-South, Midwest and West, including Kentucky. GIPSA estimates that Eastern Livestock owes money to more than 750 sellers in Kentucky and 29 other states.