Scores of Farmers Testify at Pierce Elevator Hearing

NORFOLK - One farmer after another testified Tuesday as the Nebraska Public Services Commission held a hearing to gather information on claims sought against Pierce Elevator Incorporated.  In March, the company was forced to close due to its lost line of operating credit and roughly 200 farmers are seeking claims totaling more than $9 million dollars.  The Commission’s Director of Grains John Fecht said the way farmers and others will be paid back centers on  the way grain was handled at the elevator.  The first, a warehouse license: meaning farmers paid the elevator to store their grain until they were ready to sell.  The other, a grain dealer license: that's when the elevator picked up a farmer's grain and delivered it to a third party.  Fecht said with regard to grain dealer claims, there had to have been a demand for payment within the 30 days prior to the closing on March 4th and that any grain movement had to have been within that last 30 days.  Fecht said the commission has already sold hundreds of thousands of bushels of corn previously stored at the Pierce elevator and that a significantly less amount of soybeans is in the process of being sold.  Fall is the earliest farmers will be notified of their valid claims.  Commission officials says the elevator will be up for sale by the end of the month.