Judgment sought against bison co-op

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) has commenced a legal action in Cass County District Court seeking a $49,000 judgment against the North American Bison Cooperative (NABC) for its failure to meet an agreement to pay for cattle it had purchased from six producers.

“The cooperative agreed to pay the six producers a total of $324,674 for cattle bought as far back as October 2010,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “The agreement stipulated that the money must be paid in full by June 1, 2012, and that if it was not paid, the cooperative would pay the department a civil penalty of $49,000.”

Goehring said the agreement was the result of NDDA's filing an administrative complaint against NABC, doing business as North Dakota Natural Beef LLC, on June 15, 2011.

“NABC failed to pay producers even though there was a trust fund set up by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA),” Goehring said. “I am disappointed that the trust fund set up by federal regulators failed to protect the livestock producers who were not paid in full for animals they sold to the cooperative.

“There was once enough money in the trust fund to pay the producers for their livestock,” he said. “Unfortunately, the cooperative and its management failed to live up to their obligations under the trust, and current federal regulations prevented GIPSA from providing sufficient oversight. It now appears that the producers will not see most of the money owed them.”

North Dakota Natural Beef closed its beef and bison processing plant in Fargo and ended its operations last August.