The North Dakota Public Service Commission has filed insolvency proceedings against Earth Harvest Mills, an organic grains company based in Harvey North Dakota, after a customer filed a complaint over a $26,000 unpaid grain claim.
“We’re at a point where we are cannot in good conscience let this continue,” Public Service Commissioner Randy Christmann told KFYR television. “It is our responsibility to provide as much protection to producers as we can.”
It’s too bad someone from the state wasn’t providing some protection for the taxpayers.
We wrote about Earth Harvest Mills previously here on SAB. Back in 2010 we noted that the company, which has gobbled up more than $12 million in public subsidies, was already in trouble.
In 2002 the company received a $2.2 million, USDA-guaranteed loan (which it has subsequently repaid).
In 2003 the company received a $50,000 “investment” from the North Dakota Development Fund according to their online database.
In 2005 the company received $330,000 in “investments” from the NDDF.
In 2007 the company received another $209,968, again from the NDDF.
In 2009 the company had a banner year for subsidies. In addition to a $2 million investment from the NDDF, the company also received a $25,500 grant from the North Dakota Commerce Department according to the state’s online database of spending and they received a $7.3 million grant issued by Obama-appointed USDA Rural Development Director Jasper Schneider.
“The new facility will help create good paying North Dakota jobs, while allowing Earth Harvest Mills to continue to grow their domestic and international markets,” Schneider was quoted as saying in a press release at the time.
“Funding a start-up manufacturing company is challenging,” Grayson Hoberg, CEO of Earth Harvest, was also quoted as saying. “No bank would fund us until we received a USDA Rural Development guarantee.”
Maybe there was good reason for that. And the subsidies didn’t stop in 2009, either.
In 2010 the company received another $27,000 in grants including $1,500 from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and another $25,500 from the state Commerce Department.
All together, the company got a whopping $12,142,468 from the taxpayers, though it’s unclear how much of that beyond the $2.2 million loan from 2002 has been paid back.
I called the North Dakota Commerce Department and the North Dakota Rural Development offices to see what, if any, of the remaining funds have been paid off. I’ll update when I receive information.
Update: According to the USDA, Earth Harvest Mills has two outstanding loans through them. One for $1.1 million made in 2003 and one for $7.387 million announced in 2009 (mentioned above). I’m awaiting the details about how much is left to pay off those loans.