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Published: Friday, 1/22/2010

Dairy farm developer's loans aren't renewed

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

A Fulton County firm that recruited Dutch dairy farmers to relocate to the United States has become ensnared in financial troubles similar to those plaguing some of its clients.

Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development LLC, Wauseon, and several people connected to the firm have been named in a $5 million breach of contract and foreclosure lawsuit by AgStar Financial Services, a lending cooperative based in Mankato, Minn.

AgStar, in a complaint this week filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo, alleges Vreba-Hoff failed to repay four notes that matured July 1 and Aug. 1. With interest and penalties, the firm owes $5 million.

The lawsuits asks Judge James Carr to order foreclosure of two northwest Ohio dairy farms put up to secure the notes by Vreba-Hoff Leasing LLC, a related entity also named in the complaint. Judge Carr yesterday appointed Elizabeth Lynch of Dublin, Ohio, as receiver over the properties: Wild Cat Dairy in Paulding County and Blue Stream Dairy in Van Wert County.

Ms. Lynch is vice president of Development Specialists Inc. near Columbus.

"It is disappointing," Vreba-Hoff spokesman Cecilia Conway said of the AgStar suit. "This year has been very hard on the entire dairy industry. All farmers are working with their lenders as best they can."

She said that VrebaHoff did not miss loan payments, but that AgStar declined to renew loans when they became due.

William Stavole, an AgStar lawyer, referred questions to the lender.

A representative could not be reached for comment.

Vreba-Hoff provides development and consulting services to several dozen dairy farmers it recruited to the Midwest from the Netherlands. At least three of those farmers ran into financial problems last year and were named in foreclosure complaints by AgStar.

Besides Vreba-Hoff, lawsuit defendants include company partners Wihelmus "Willy" Van Bakel of Lyons, Ohio, and John Vander Hoff of Reading, Mich.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.



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