Huntington/Wells County grain mill company loses licenses, faces foreclosure

Local News

HUNTINGTON COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — A grain mill company serving both Huntington and Wells County is facing foreclosure.

Salamonie Mills and Agland Grain are both run under the same ownership. The companies supply a wide range of agriculturally-related products including livestock feed for cattle, swine, horses, and chickens. They also offer grain bin storage for corn, wheat, and soybeans at different locations throughout Huntington and Wells counties. 

According to court documents Kevin Drayer defaulted on two separate loans and owes more than $8 million dollars to First Farmers Bank & Trust. Because of the lack of payment, the bank is foreclosing and “all real estate in Huntington and associated collateral be sold in accordance with applicable law.” However, due to the Executive Order 20-06 by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, the bank can not seek to foreclose on the properties at this time but reserves the right to do so in the future.

A hearing is set for April 23 to discuss the foreclosure process with owners.

History of the mill

Salamonie Mills opened in 1834 in Warren, Indiana, making it one of the oldest existing agribusiness in Indiana. Ownership of the mills has changed over the years but for the last few decades, the mill has been in a trust passed down through the Wendell Jackson Revocable Living Trust which eventually lead to Kevin Drayer and his now ex-wife, Alisa, partnering in the business. In 2013, Salamonie Mills and Agland Grian began operating under joint ownership.

Loss of licensing

The first notice of licensing suspension

The company lost its grain licenses issued by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture earlier in March. The notice was “to all customers intending to store, grain bank, deferred pricing or sell grain” as of March 3. The Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency temporarily suspended Indiana grain buyer/warehouse license(s) issued to the mill’s locations in, Bluffton, Uniondale, Markle, Huntington, and Warren.

During the suspension, the facility is being supervised by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture director or a designated representative. The business is restricted in certain new purchases of grain.

A second notice was published on March 20. During the mills’ temporary suspension the facilities may operate but can’t incur any additional obligations. It goes on to say that in the event a hearing of claims is necessary, the agency will provide notice as required by state law. The suspension has not been lifted at the time of publication.

Questions and Answers from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture

Farmers have contacted WANE 15 with concerns and questions about the mills and how to obtain the money and/or grain they had in the mills. The Indiana State Department of Agriculture along with the Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency answered.

Why did Salamonie Mills/Agland Grain temporarily have their license suspended? 

The Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency is responsible for the enforcement of the Agency’s licensing laws as to its licensees to ensure the financial integrity of our state’s grain industry.  The Agency’s goal in every such suspension situation is to work with the licensee’s owners, lift the suspension and have the licensee’s business operations return to normal.

How many mills have closed in the past decade? Are mill closures common? Is it common the Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency comes in when a mill closes?  

Any grain company, grain mill or grain facility is able to close their business whenever they choose to do so. Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency doesn’t oversee the opening and/or closing of grain companies. However, Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency does ensure that each facility licensed by them meets Indiana grain and warehouse licensure law.  

What is the state of Indiana’s Grain Indemnity Fund and how does it work?

The Indiana Grain Indemnity Fund is a program designed to provide participating farmers certain compensation in the event of a commercial grain facility failure licensed by the Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency. You can find more information on the Indiana Grain Indemnity Fund here. Pursuant to Indiana Code 26-4.

How much is will the fund cover?

The Grain Indemnity Fund today has over $25 million dollars in it. This fund covers participating farmers up to certain amounts for their grain sold at a licensed grain facility.

What counts as a participating farmer when it comes to the grain fund? Are there dues farmers have to pay that makes them illegible for the fund? 

A grain producer is considered to be a participant in Indiana’s grain indemnity program as long as the producer has not requested and received any refunds of his or her producer premiums after June 30th, 2015.  Producer premiums are collected from producers on all marketed grain that is sold to a first purchaser licensee.

Does the IGBWLA plan to hold a meeting with farmers if they have questions?

The Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency will remain available and helpful to producers as much as possible in any situation. If producers have questions or issues they can contact the agency directly. At this time, there is no meeting planned because this is only a license suspension. If a need arises for a meeting with the farmers affected then we can make that happen within the bounds of the public health emergency and the Governor’s Executive Orders.

Is there a phone number farmers should call if they have concerns or questions about the company? 

Yes. Producers are encouraged to call our Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency at 317.232.1360 or email INGrainBuyers@isda.in.gov. If we are unable to answer the call directly please leave a message with your contact info and we will promptly call you back.

***WANE 15 reached out to Kevin Drayer, co-owner of the mills to request common. However, comment from the owner was not returned at the time this story was published.

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