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Farming giant sued for $150M in unpaid bills

ZEELAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) – A west Michigan farming giant is facing more than a half-dozen lawsuits seeking damages of nearly $150 million.

The series of lawsuits have been filed by various businesses over the past few months. Most of the ones 24-Hour News 8’s sister station, WOOD, found are filed in Ottawa County Circuit Court, though the largest was discovered in a federal court filing.

In the case seeking the most in damages, Minnesota-based securities company CHS Capital claimed Boersen Farms entities owed upwards of $145 million.

CHS claimed it fronted capital to the Boersens’ businesses and that the farms failed to comply with the repayment agreement. CHS said the Boersens lied about their harvests in 2016 and used some of the borrowed money to purchase a personal residence.

Other debtors filing suit included Deere & Company, Hoekstra Electrical, CNH Industrial Capital, The Farmers Cooperative Elevator Co. and Strategic Funding Source, Inc. Those suits total around $3 million in damages, though some didn’t yet seek a firm dollar amount.

A company executive reached at Boersen Farms headquarters in Zeeland referred WOOD to an attorney for comment. Attorney Steve Rayman provided the following statement on behalf of the Boersens:

“We are working with our current lenders and vendors toward resolution of our restructure issues and we are working with other new potential lenders on a refinance,” he said. “We anticipate moving forward within the next two weeks. We are committed to the harvest and we are committed to the reorganization and the continuance of the farming operation.”

Boersen Farms is largely focused on farming corn and other grains. The company website says it operates in some 15 counties in Michigan with storage available for more than 9 million bushels of product.

Rayman attributed the farm company’s financial woes to the falling price of corn. Over the past several years, corn price has taken a hit. Five years ago, it sold for around $8 a bushel. Now it lists below $3.50.

Despite corn’s dip in value, Rayman said, the cost of farming it has not decreased.

While Rayman does handle bankruptcies as part of his practice, he said the Boersens hope to resolve their financial struggles without filing bankruptcy.

While the family hopes to stay in business, CHS is looking to take possession of the company farms including equipment and crops.

The Boersens have disputed some of what the creditors claim they owe.