Letter To The Editor: Banghart Properties Being Persecuted by SD PUC

Editors Note: SDDP received this letter to the editor, we a meme page not journalists so we cannot confirm or deny the points laid out in this letter. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of SDDP and our mysterious shadow council members. Also news story link at the end for context.

Letter to Editor
By: Jan Banghart, Managing Member
Banghart Properties LLC

As someone who was nurtured in the values of liberty and economic freedom on a family farm, I now find myself facing an unjust situation as the head of a local agricultural business, Banghart Properties LLC (BP), due to undue interference from the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (SD PUC) staff. As a family we put our heart & soul into the farm life as Governor Noem has said “keeping our families dream alive” I was taught the importance of supporting the local economy and holding dear the rights & liberties our forefathers fought to provide us. Every one of my business ventures has always had the same motto, “adding value” to economic growth.

In January, we were issued an illegal cease and desist order from the SD PUC for simply “growing too fast.” BP currently holds s Class B license that has a cap of $5 million in sales. This disrupted our business and pushed our farmers into a tight corner. What did this cause? SD farmers were forced into the untenable position of either seeking expensive legal representation or transferring their contracts to Big Ag elevators, an option that spelled substantial financial loss. The PUC interference with the farmers open contracts to move their contract to a Big Ag elevator did not take into consideration that his Big Ag elevator wanted $2.00 per cwt which would have left each farmer out thousand of dollars and the PUC did not take into consideration that the farmers did not want to deliver there. In addition, the PUC failed to consider the other associated costs they caused the farmers by continuing this matter instead of working with BP for resolution, such as climbing interest rates, grain spoilage, interruption in their operation, to name a few. Their overreach had a major impact on not 1 farmer or 1 business but instead on a tremendous number of SD farmers, trucking companies, and has cost the tax payers continued dollars.

This dilemma is not limited to one farmer or business but extends to the broader farming community in South Dakota. It’s become apparent that the actions of PUC warehouse director, Cody Chambliss, have been causing undue harm. His history of overstepping his authority and his refusal to renew our Class A license are red flags about the fairness of his decisions. Our commitment at Banghart Properties has always been to the farmers of South Dakota. We work tirelessly to ensure they receive fair value for their produce and labor. In our efforts to help them, we have become more than just a business; we’re part of a community, helping to sustain local economies and promote rural development.

Chambliss’ apparent vendetta has left this issue unresolved. His clear bias, inconsistent accounting system, and a pattern of providing misleading information to the PUC Commission show a blatant disregard for fairness. His advice to the farmers to “get a lawyer” seems dismissive and limits their freedom to collaborate with us, a business that on average consistently secures them up to $45 more per acre than they would typically earn elsewhere. But there seems to be a darker reality hidden behind the scenes at the PUC, an apparent collusion with Big Ag monopolies, and a targeted effort to stifle small, family-owned businesses. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment could be in jeopardy here, as there appears to be a discriminatory denial of Class A licenses to certain applicants. The PUC claims to have the farmers best interest but their “slow playing” no resolution tactic clearly shows that is not the truth. This is not the only time the PUC has cost SD Farmers tremendous monies, as we cannot overlook the disparity in how the PUC handles cases—leaving large, out-of-state billion dollar agricultural companies owing millions to our farmers unchecked while placing undue scrutiny on Banghart Properties.
It should be noted that the greater share of the BP’s grain transactions were shipped out of state with title transferring at destination and upon acceptance as set in precedence by the PUC in a prior grain case, therefore, BP’s was never over the statutory threshold. This coupled with the fact that Cody Chambliss illegally denied BP 2022 Class A license application, the substantial harm caused to SD Farmers should never have happened. To this day this issue is still not settled, not by our reluctance but instead by a vendetta of Cody Chambliss towards BP Independent Contractor along with gender & discrimination of myself. Since when does an unelected bureaucrat (Cody Chambliss) have the authority to issue a cease & desist forcing a private business to shut down with no due process whatsoever? ( How does this even make sense? Would a retail store suffer the same consequences?

The most important factor is the cost the SD farmer is enduring. Governor Noem said in her State of State address, “Our state’s agriculture industry is now a $32 billion industry and it’s responsible for 1 in 5 jobs in the state. We need to continue to preserve agriculture’s opportunity to thrive”. So why wouldn’t SD Producers suffering million dollar losses from actions by the PUC not be worthy of the Governors attention? I personally contacted the Governor’s office requesting a meeting for myself and producers, unfortunately we were denied.
I am completely astounded by these actions of the PUC and that our Governor would not want to know what is going on under her watch. What happened to the Governor being available to discuss issues that have a major impact on the state and those that reside in the state? So if it isn’t the Governor, who provides oversight of the PUC? Who is it I should be contacting? Is the PUC and their staff not accountable to anyone?

Despite these challenges, we will continue to stand up for the rights of our farmers and strive to offer them the best value for their hard work. The pursuit of truth and justice may be difficult, but as Jonathan Swift wrote in 1710, “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.” It is our hope that the truth will, indeed, catch up soon.

Sincerely,

Jan Banghart

Banghart Properties LLC

Context links from News:

Letter To The Editor: Banghart Properties Being Persecuted by SD PUC
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