Governor Jay Nixon has signed into law legislation designed to protect Missouri farmers from dishonest or financially struggling grain dealers.
The measure comes out of what state officials call the largest grain fraud scheme in Missouri history: Prosecutors charged Cathy Gieseker with defrauding 180 grain farmers out of at least $27 million as her business went under. She pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and is now in prison.
Nixon says the measure could have helped prevent what happened.
"Our mantra has been that we never want to have that happen again, and it's our hope and expectation that this measure will prevent that sort of thing from happening again," Nixon said at a bill signing ceremony in Mexico, Mo.
Under the new law, grain dealers have to maintain a net worth of at least five percent of their annual grain purchases. Those purchases must be included in a grain dealer's financial statements, which also now have to be reviewed by a Certified Public Accountant.
"We think that getting that external review is gonna help," Nixon said. "(The bill also doubles) the minimum surety bond required for grain dealers, so you're gonna have twice as much dollar protection on that security bond...these changes will strengthen grain production and strengthen Missouri agriculture."
The so-called omnibus agriculture bill (Senate Bill 356) also exempts sales taxes from being levied on people who sell deer and other wildlife game to hunting ranches, and also exempts taxes on farm machinery upgrades and related shipping costs.