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 From Madville Times "Press AWOL on huge Veblen Dairy Bankruptcy Sale"

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joelie hicks
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PostSubject: From Madville Times "Press AWOL on huge Veblen Dairy Bankruptcy Sale"   Tue Sep 21, 2010 9:45 pm

Press AWOL on Huge Veblen Dairy Bankruptcy Sale

Last week David Newquist said the traditional press just doesn't have the time or motivation to cover agriculture. Here's support for that contention: I'm hearing from my sources that the bankruptcy auction to liquidate the environmental atrocity known as Veblen East went forward last week. The buyer, "Vista Family Dairies LLC," apparently bid $21,300,000: $800 for each of 5000 head of cattle and $17,300,000 for the facility. That's the minimum requested bid for the cattle and $1,300,000 more than the minimum requested bid for the facility. The bid is also less than half the $50 million Veblen East cost to build.

No information for Vista Family Dairies LLC is available online, not even corporate papers or fictitious name registration on the Secretary of State's website... and if I'm reading state statute correctly, Vista Family Dairies LLC needs to have such papers filed before conducting business like bidding in a bankruptcy auction.

Vista Family Dairies is likely not the happy family operation its name implies. I'm betting it's Veblen East owner Rick Millner, who is surely scurrying around northeastern South Dakota and beyond trying to find investors who don't know his history of fleecing business partners, stiffing suppliers, and driving dairy operations into the ground through bad business and environmental practices.

And those potential investors won't know the history of either Millner or Veblen East because the local media haven't covered it. In all my blogging about Richard Millner's troubled dairy operations, I have relied on primary source, court documents, and AgWeek. Emily Arthur-Richardt of the Aberdeen American News did a good job in 2007 on the story of the Veblen East Dairy getting built with money from rich foreigners buying their way to the front of the line for green cards. However, on Millner's environmental violations and bankruptcy, the South Dakota press has been mostly silent. (Readers, you are welcome to submit links and articles to prove my memory faulty!)

By one account, polluting Veblen East and its bankrupt twin dairy Veblen West make up 15% of South Dakota's dairy industry. If a hospital or credit card call center that made up 15% of its industry in this state polluted the neighboring watershed, went broke, and was auctioned off to a mystery LLC, the media would be covering it... wouldn't they?

The Veblen East auction and pending Veblen West bankruptcy activity are big financial and environmental news. On this important story, the professional press are AWOL.

Posted by caheidelberger at 07:36
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joelie hicks
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PostSubject: tell me again what an economic boon these places are for SD   Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:23 pm

Vista Family Dairies Exists! Looks Like Millner Buying Bankrupt Dairy Back

Vista Family Dairies, the high bidder in last week's auction of bankrupt and polluting Veblen East mega-dairy, finally exists, as of Tuesday, September 21. The South Dakota Secretary of State has finally received the LLC's Articles of Organization. Vista Family Dairies has the same street address as Prairie Ridge Management, the company headed by Richard Millner that built Veblen East and lobbied the South Dakota Legislature to exempt huge dairies from the Family Farm Act.

Vista's agent is Jorden Hill of Veblen. Its organizers are Robert Jameson of West Fargo, ND; Jeffrey Topp of Grace City, ND; and Wayne Viessman of Gary, SD. Hill and Viessman have been partners with Millner in his previous South Dakota dairy exploits and in lobbying Congress for easier regs on hiring foreign workers.

Millner's name isn't on the Vista "Family" Dairies papers... but how much would you like to bet he's rounding up the investors for what feels like a bankruptcy shell game?

Posted by caheidelberger at 07:55
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PostSubject: The Veblen Saga continues    Fri Sep 24, 2010 8:17 pm

Veblen Dairy's Korean Investors Keep Green Cards...
...but probably lose green.

I noted that those attending the bankruptcy auction of the Veblen East Dairy last week included Terry N. Prendergast, representing the Hanul Professional Law Corporation. Hanul is the Korean law outfit that handles EB-5 visa applications for foreign investors participating in South Dakota Regional Center programs. That's the program through which rich foreigners can buy their green cards simply by dumping a half-million dollars or more into American job creation projects. Veblen East Dairy is one of several projects in South Dakota that has benefited from this investment program.

So I got to wondering: could any of those Korean investors be losing their green cards due to the failure of Richard Millner's Veblen operation?

I contacted Joop Bollen, president of the SDRC, to find out what's up with our Korean investors. Mr. Bollen says the Korean may have a fight on their hands to recoup their investment, but their green cards are safe.

All that matters to the EB-5 program is that the investors' money creates jobs within the first two years. Each investor's money needs to generate 10 jobs, direct or indirect. The EB-5 program calculates that one job on a dairy operation translates into 2.66 jobs in the local economy (hire one guy to shovel poop, and he goes to town to buy more beer and lumber, which generates enough economic activity for the bar and the lumberyard to hire 1.66 new people). Thus, if one Korean's $500,000 can be shown to create four actual dairy jobs, the EB-5 number crunchers apply that multiplier, declare 10.64 jobs created, and Uncle Sam erases the word "conditional" from the Korean's green card. Welcome to America!

The Veblen East Dairy satisfied the job creation criterion for all of its Korean investors before it declared bankruptcy. Most of the Korean investors have already received their permanent status. A few investors have applied for but not yet received approval of permanent status from the feds, but the bankruptcy proceedings and change of ownership have no impact on those remaining applications. It doesn't matter who owns the operation, as long as the jobs have been created. And as I understand Mr. Bollen's explanation, it wouldn't even matter if the new owners couldn't keep the dairy going and the whole operation collapsed. Once the EB-5 investors' money creates the necessary jobs (real and statistically assumed), their green cards are secure.

Not so secure are their greenbacks, which are what Mr. Prendergast was in the neighborhood last week to check on. Mr. Bollen's office isn't involved at all with the bankruptcy proceedings, but he says Hanul and the Korean investors are discussing how they might recoup their investment with the new owners' group organized by Richard Millner (that's Vista "Family" Dairies). The investors might well "have to take a haircut," says Bollen. I am encouraged, at least, to see that the Korean investors are still paying attention and trying to hold Millner and partners accountable for their cash.
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Bonus Business: Vista "Family" Dairies has 30 days to get together the $23.1 million it bid for Veblen East. If Millner's minions can't convince their remaining friends to chip in for this latest Millner shell game, VFD loses the bid, and backup bidder Whetstone Valley Dairy gets Veblen East. According to the articles of organization filed last week with the Secretary of State, Whetstone Valley Dairy, LLC, is managed by Steve Myers and Michael Crinion of Brookings.
http://networkedblogs.com/8hbW0 from Madville Times
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