State agriculture officials discuss finances with farmers who did business with the now-bankrupt Central Illinois Energy ethanol plant in Canton.

Some farmers who sold corn to be made into ethanol by the now bankrupt Central Illinois Energy were disgruntled to learn they may only get 85 percent of the value the corn now has.


More than 100 people came to a meeting at Canton High School on Thursday evening to learn the process for filing claims with the Illinois Department of Agriculture for grain they delivered to Central Illinois Grain Co. in the fall.


Central Illinois Grain’s state-issued grain license already had been suspended in the wake of Central Illinois Energy’s financial woes, which led to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The incomplete ethanol plant, which sits on a 280-acre site 3½ miles south of Canton, is now for sale.


Central Illinois Grain Co. is the arm of Central Illinois Energy that handled corn destined for the distillery.


Most of the grain was delivered under a price later contract, said Illinois Department of Agriculture warehouse examiner supervisor Stuart Selinger. That means those farmers will get at least 85 percent of the closing rate for corn on Dec. 19, the day the company surrendered its license, which is $4.03½ per bushel.


Illinois Department of Agriculture Assistant Director Tom Jennings told the group that anyone with a warehouse receipt will get a 100 percent reimbursement. Several farmers in the audience were unhappy about that.


"They told me before they priced it that they were not issuing warehouse receipts," one man said.


Jennings said that was an issue between the farmers and Central Illinois Grain.


"We didn’t know this was gonna happen," another man said, adding that he had delivered 5,000 bushels under price later, the only option he was given.


"Do the board members have their names on the warehouse receipts?" one man asked. Another man in the audience said only Cargill Inc. — the company that bought the corn — was given a warehouse receipt, meaning only Cargill is guaranteed a 100 percent reimbursement. Jennings said that’s true.


Thursday the agriculture department trucked in 30 semi loads of rock and put it on the ground leading to the areas where the grain is being stored. Selinger said that was necessary to get trucks in. He said the corn will be moved starting Jan. 2.


The sale of the corn should cover all the money owed to farmers, Selinger said. If the sale does not cover 85 percent, the Illinois Grain Insurance Fund would cover the rest.

"I’m hopeful we can get them more than 85 percent," he said.


Selinger said he hopes cold weather will preserve the 1.5 million bushels of corn at Central Illinois Energy while the department lays the groundwork to move it.


"Quality is an issue" for the grain, some of which is stored on the ground, Selinger said. The more quality product the agriculture department can deliver for Cargill, the more money the department will have to return to the farmers.


Cargill is an international corporation providing food, agricultural and risk management products and services.


Jennings said farmers can file claims at the ethanol plant, where warehouse examiners will be on hand, or by mailing them to the Illinois Department of Agriculture in Springfield. The filing deadline is March 18.


"If you do not have your claim filed by then, you’re out of luck," he said.


Reach Journal Star reporter Brenda Rothert at (309) 686-3041 or