Court-appointed receiver delays bankruptcy filing for Boersen Farms
ZEELAND — A West Michigan farm operator that’s facing a string of financial issues has been sued by agricultural giant Monsanto Co. for breach of contract.
According to a lawsuit filed Oct. 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Monsanto alleges that Zeeland-based Boersen Farms Inc. never paid for the more than $2.3 million in corn and soybean seeds it bought for the 2016 growing season.
The lawsuit alleges that Dennis Boersen of Boersen Farms — which harvests crops across roughly 83,000 acres in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana — signed up for Monsanto’s interest-free Farmflex financing program that allows growers to buy seeds at the beginning of the growing season and pay off the purchase no later than Nov. 25 of that year.
The St. Louis-area ag/biotech firm said in the court filings that Boersen Farms purchased seed from its Crop Production Services (CPS) distributor in March 2016, missed the payment deadline that year and “has been unjustly enriched and obtained profits that in equity and good conscience belong to Monsanto.”
Monsanto is demanding Boersen repay the outstanding balance, plus 1.5 percent interest per month since it missed the payment, as well as damages, “reasonable attorney fees and collection costs.”
Boersen Farms initially signed a Monsanto Technology Stewardship Agreement in 2013, an agreement that allowed it to purchase seeds from the company.
Monsanto is being represented by Kansas City, Mo.-based Husch Blackwell LLP in the case.
BANKRUPTCY FILING DELAYED
The Monsanto lawsuit against Boersen Farms follows a case filed by Minnesota-based CHS Capital LLC alleging that the farm operator owes it more than $145 million for outstanding unpaid balances, according to documents filed in August with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
On Monday, CHS said that it had transferred its interests in the unpaid debts to Zeeland-based LT Capital LLC, which “intends to pursue immediate voluntary dismissal” of the case against Boersen Farms, according to court documents.
The registered agent for LT Capital is Brian Terborg, the CFO of Zeeland Farm Services Inc.
As MiBiz previously reported, Boersen Farms is in receivership and had been gearing up to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. However, court-appointed receiver O’Keefe & Associates Consulting LLC since said that it was temporarily holding off filing for Boersen Farms’ bankruptcy so the parties can find a way to harvest the crops that remain in the ground.
“[A]ny further delay in the commencement of the 2017 harvest would only directly harm the Plaintiff (CHS),” according to a court filing on Sept. 29.
In the filing, Principal Patrick O’Keefe stated that he would remain in contact with the parties in the case and “continuously re-evaluate whether or not to file the voluntary Chapter 11 petitions” for Boersen Farms.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated.