BISMARCK — The North Dakota Senate has voted unanimously to study the regulation of grain buyers rather than move regulation to the state’s Agriculture Department.

The Senate on Friday, March 29, passed an amendment to overhaul House Bill 1467 into a bill calling for a study of “agricultural issues in the state, including studying grain buyers, roving grain buyers, grain brokers, and grain handling facilities under title 60; and issues related to prepayment for fertilizer, soil amendments, seed, and fuel in situations of insolvency,” then voted unanimously to pass the bill.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission is in charge of regulating grain traders. Sen. Larry Luick, R-Fairmount, on the Senate floor said of the 38 states that regulate grain traders, 34 do so through their agriculture departments. However, many of those states also have issues with how regulation is handled, and the Senate Agriculture Committee felt it more prudent to study the issue and come up with a better way, he said.

Luick called the issue “one of the most needed studies, in my personal opinion, of this session.”

The state’s issues with grain trading regulation have been highlighted by the case of Hunter Hanson, a roving grain buyer now facing millions of dollars in claims against his businesses.

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“Oversight and regulation needs to be stepped up or we will face similar problems as the latest case of insolvency,” Luick said.

Since the House previously had passed HB 1467, that chamber will have to take up the amendments made by the Senate.

The Senate previously passed a different bill addressing grain trading regulation in the state. Senate Bill 2346 would give the PSC more authority in regulation and would increase the grain indemnity fund. That bill remains in the House Agriculture Committee.