Lakeland Grain Company in Winnsboro has not paid farmers for their grain and faces possible take over by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry as soon as Wednesday afternoon, said Mike Strain, Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry.
The situation emerged after Lakeland Grain lost its cash line of credit with Concordia Bank & Trust Company and did not have funds to pay for the grain.
A deadline of Wednesday afternoon has been placed on Lakeland Grain Company and Concordia Bank & Trust Company to develop a plan for a positive cash-flow, Strain said.
“We are all working together, Lakeland Grain, the Ater family, the banks and the department to make sure the farmers will be paid,” Strain said. “That is the bottom line.”
Representatives of Lakeland Grain Company appeared at the Commissioner of Agricultures board meeting Friday to determine possible routes of funding, Wade Iverstine, with Kean Miller LLP of Baton Rouge, representing Lakeland Grain Company.
“We are working around the clock to resolve this issue,” Iverstine said. “(Lakeland Grain) is operating at a high capacity. Elevators are seeing the most money coming in and out at this time.”
Iverstine seconded Strain’s response and said Lakeland was working with Concordia Bank & Trust Company, so farmers can receive payment for their grain.
At press time, area farmers are delivering their grain to different elevators located throughout the parish. Strain assured farmers who previously delivered their product to Lakeland Grain and did not receive compensation will be paid.
“I promise all the farmers will be paid for the grain that has been delivered to Lakeland Grain,” Strain said.
The late Al Ater purchased the business from Winnsboro Elevator Inc. in 2014 and made $2.5 million worth of improvements. Improvements included additional scales, a grade shack and the complete reconfiguration of drives helping the flow of traffic going in and out of La. Hwy 15.
Ater passed away in 2017 at 63 after a lengthy battle with cancer.