Texas grain producers have the opportunity to decide whether or not to establish a statewide grain indemnity fund, as authorized last year by the Texas Legislature. Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples encourages grain producers to mail their ballots by Friday, Dec. 7, 2012.

“This is an important issue for consumers and the thousands of grain producers who contribute more than $2.3 billion in sales to the Texas economy each year,” Commissioner Staples said. “This fall, producers have the opportunity to decide (if) an industry-funded indemnity program is a good method for protecting themselves from financial losses due to warehouse failures.”

Corn, grain sorghum, soybeans and wheat producers who have sold grain in Texas during the past 36 months, including those who produce grain for seed, may vote on whether to pay an assessment to establish a fund that would cover up to 90 percent of their financial losses when grain warehouses or grain buyers fail to pay for grain due to a financial failure.

David Gibson, executive director, Texas Corn Producers Board (TCPB) and executive vice president, Corn Producers Association of Texas (CPAT) explains how the indemnity fund would help producers.

“In working with producers through both TCPB, the state’s checkoff program and CPAT, the producers’ legislative arm, it has always been hardest to answer producers’ questions when they were not paid for grain that was either sold or in storage,” Gibson says.

 “Without this fund, there is only coverage of stored grain that is in place under the Federal and State Warehouse rules. In past cases where buyers have failed, most producers only then realized contracted grain and sold grain not yet paid for was not covered by the Federal or State Warehouse rules. The next reality came when they learned the required bond amount would not enable them to recover the total value or quantity of grain.

“We encourage producers to look at the current rules for both federal and state warehouses. It is important producers know these limitations as they consider this fund. Thirteen other states have similar funds in place to protect the value of producer grain, so this is not a new concept that has not been implemented successfully elsewhere.”

If the fund is approved, it would be administered by a nine-member Texas Grain Producers Indemnity Board (TGPIB) appointed as a result of HB 1840 passed in the most recent state legislative session. While the Texas Department of Agriculture is tasked with facilitating the referendum, the agency is strictly neutral on the outcome of the vote and encourages producers to voice their opinion with their votes.

Voting for the grain indemnity fund is conducted by mail ballot only. Postage-paid ballots are available at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension offices. For those unable to access an AgriLife office, a ballot may be requested from TDA by contacting Lance Williams at Lance.Williams@TexasAgriculture.gov or (512) 463-3285.

Valid ballots must be postmarked no later than Dec. 7, 2012, and mailed to the Texas Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 12847, Austin, Texas 78711.

Ballots will be counted on Dec. 17, 2012, and Commissioner Staples will certify the results. For more information, visit www.texasgrainindemnity.org.