State officials sorting assets of defunct business

ROSSVILLE – Starting today, Illinois Department of Agriculture officials are meeting individually with farmers and creditors affected by Kaufman Grain Co. going out of business.

On April 26, the Department of Agriculture assumed control of Kaufman Grain's elevators in Rossville, Rankin and East Lynn. The company voluntarily surrendered its Illinois Grain Dealer's and Illinois Grain Warehouse licenses.

Jeff Squibb, spokesman with the Department of Agriculture, said Kaufman Grain decided to go out of business so the responsibility of liquidating the grain at the three elevators and paying creditors falls to the Department of Agriculture.

Squibb said Kaufman Grain has sold off part of its business.

Les Busboom of Royal, who owns grain elevators in Royal and Collison, said he has purchased the Kaufman Grain elevator in Rossville. Busboom said he likely will need the additional elevator capacity to supply the ethanol plant that's being built near Royal.

"We needed more facilities," said Busboom, who added that the Rossville elevator is only about 30 miles from Royal.

He emphasized, however, that he has bought only the Rossville elevator, not any part of Kaufman Grain Co.

He expects to take over the Rossville elevator on July 1, or when it's empty.

The Rankin and East Lynn elevators have been sold to elevator owners in the Iroquois County area, Busboom said.

Agriculture department officials have been on site at Kaufman's main office at 309 E. Attica St. in Rossville, Squibb said, assessing the company's holdings.

Tuesday night, department officials held a meeting at the Rossville-Alvin High School building to inform farmers and creditors of how the claims process will work.

Anyone with a financial interest in the company's grain holdings, including producers with grain stored in one of the three elevators or anyone who has not been paid for grain sold to the company, is encouraged to contact department of agriculture officials by either visiting the Kaufman Grain office in Rossville or by calling the office at 217-748-6222. An appointment will then be scheduled.

Anyone who wants to file a claim must do so by July 24, Squibb said.

Department examiners have been assessing the situation, and Squibb said they expect that Kaufman's grain holdings and assets will be sufficient to pay everyone with an outstanding obligation.

"At this point, we see no troubles with that," Squibb said.

According to a press release from the Department of Agriculture, Kaufman Grain Co. was a member of the Illinois Grain Insurance Fund, which means all grain deposits at its facilities are protected under the Illinois Grain Code. Stored grain is protected at 100 percent of its close-out value, which is determined by the Department of Agriculture. Grain priced within 21 days of the date of failure also is covered at 100 percent, while grain held under a price-later contract is protected at 85 percent of the close-out value based on the length of time since delivery and pricing.

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