by SUSAN MANN
A 39-year-old Howick Township man is facing 16 charges involving fraudulent business transactions related to cattle sales and other agricultural services, Huron County Ontario Provincial Police say.
The man was charged after the Huron County OPP crime unit along with the OPP’s Rural Agricultural Crime Team completed a six-month investigation on July 18. The rural frauds took place within the county over a two-year period. They include “a large number” of fraudulent business transactions, impersonation of creditors and uttering false documents since January 2010, it says in an OPP press release.
Many of the victims were individual farmers and in some cases local businesses.
LeaAnne Hodgins, Ontario Cattlemen’s Association communications manager, says they don’t have any details on the case.
The Ontario Beef Cattle Financial Protection program is in place to cover the bulk of transactions involving cattle sales in the province. “That program protects cattle sellers when a licensed dealer defaults on payment,” she says.
Ontario Cattlemen’s encourages producers to make sure they understand how the program works and how to make a claim, Hodgins says.
Ontario agriculture ministry spokesperson Susan Murray says by email the program doesn’t cover cattle sales to dealers who aren’t licensed. The man involved in this case isn’t a licensed cattle dealer in Ontario nor, “to our knowledge has he ever been a licensed dealer in Ontario.”
There aren’t any claims to the program against him, she adds.
When selling cattle, Murray says farmers can do a few things to protect their interests.
• Always deal with a licensed dealer. When in doubt ask to see their license or check the ministry’s website for a current list of dealers.
• Don’t extend credit to a dealer. This means you shouldn’t ship another load of cattle once payment for a previous load is overdue.
• Notify the ministry if you don’t receive payment on time.
• File a claim with the Livestock Financial Protection Board no later than 30 days after the day of sale.
Brian Merkley is scheduled to appear in Goderich court on Sept. 10. BF