The Mail Tribune reports that ……..A Southern Oregon farm wants millions of dollars from a group of businesses and individuals who allegedly pitched themselves as a “co-op” of hemp harvesters and processors, but left the farm high and dry days after being paid six figures.
Jefferson State Farms of Medford, owned by Ben and Kathleen Yuma, is suing four individuals and three businesses that the Yumas met through social media for more than $11 million.
The Yumas are claiming that the businesses never so much as started harvesting the farm’s crop of 112,500 hemp plants last fall — despite making six-figures in deposits, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court.
The lawsuit makes civil fraud, unlawful trade practices and breach of contract allegations against businesses identified as Palex Enterprises, Hemp Warehouse and Great Horizons LLC and four individuals because the Yumas’ farm paid them a $136,000 down payment for the crop’s schedule Oct. 9 harvest start date, yet they never returned $86,000 of the money the farm paid — despite at least two handwritten promises to do so.
When the Yumas tried to collect the money they paid, one of the attempts turned physical at a warehouse in White City, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit provides a look at the challenges one Southern Oregon hemp grower faced during the region’s difficult first season farming the low-THC, high-CBD crop. According to earlier Mail Tribune reports, numerous hemp growers struggled with early frosts, bug infestations, mold and a lack of local processing facilities — not to mention a looming threat of national regulation changes.
The Yumas’ alleged ordeal started Sept. 30, when Jefferson State Farms inquired about harvesting and drying on Meetup.com’s “Southern Oregon Hemp Co-op” group.
Later that day, the Yumas met with the Meetup group’s administrator, identified in the suit as Robbie Lesa Horton, at a White City warehouse owned by Hemp Warehouse and Palex Enterprises. Horton introduced the Yumas to her business partner, named in the lawsuit as Hong Morales.
Morales quoted the Yumas a fee of more than half a million dollars to harvest the crop with equipment such as a combine harvester and a mobile industrial hemp dryer. By the end of the week, Jefferson State Farms had signed a letter of intent and paid them the first of two $68,000 deposits for the work.
The following Monday, defendants in the lawsuit identified as Robert Mansur and Stormmy Paul arrived at Jefferson State Farms to inspect the crop and discuss logistics.
“Defendants Mansur and Paul emphasized the mechanical benefits of their harvesting and mobile drying equipment, and promised that their machinery could harvest and dry thousands of pounds of crops per hour,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant Paul came back the following day to collect a second $68,000 deposit on the harvesting services, which [the Yumas] paid in cash.”
Two days later on the agreed-upon start date, no one showed at the farm.
and it doesn’t get any better – read on at