Producers can protect themselves with a written contract
FRANKFORT Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles is alerting Kentucky farmers to be on the lookout for possible scams targeting hay buyers and sellers.
“The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has received several reports of fraudulent hay-buying activity,” Commissioner Quarles said, noting at least three Kentucky producers have been targeted multiple times by scammers, with one losing $1,000.
“Farmers should take extra care to protect themselves from scam artists when buying or selling commodities such as hay or livestock, especially when contacted through email, social media, or text message,” he added.
Warning signs of a possible scam include:
•The alleged buyer refuses to speak by telephone;
•The alleged buyer doesn’t give information about their farm or business; or
•The alleged buyer is vague about transportation arrangements.
One popular scam is when the alleged buyer mails the seller a check in excess of the negotiated price, stating that his “business” made a mistake. The buyer then asks the seller to use the leftover money to pay the transport costs or purchase gift cards as a refund and give the buyer the card numbers.
Scammers have also mailed checks from well-known banks that appear as if they are from legitimate businesses. By the time the seller is notified that the check bounced, the hay is gone and the seller is out the negotiated price plus a return fee.
“We urge anyone who believes they have been targeted by a scam to contact local law enforcement or the Kentucky State Police,” Commissioner Quarles said.
Buyers should be vigilant online as well. Some scammers have posed as hay sellers, creating websites, Facebook pages, or online posts that mimic legitimate hay businesses. Some send texts from overseas that are routed through domestic phone numbers in order to pose as American businesses.
Buyers can help limit their exposure to scams by having a written contract that specifies:
•The name, address, and phone number of the buyer and seller;
•The type and quality of hay;
•Whether the price will be set by total weight or number of bales;
•Logistics of shipping, including contact information and costs for pickup or delivery;
•How the money will be exchanged between buyer and seller; and
•What recourse the buyer has if the product is not as advertised (e.g., refund or replacement).
Kentucky farmers are encouraged to take advantage of the Forage Testing Program to locate forages. KDA will analyze the forage’s nutritional value for a $10 fee.
KDA also operates an online “Hay Hotline” service to connect buyers and sellers,