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Serving: WI

Wisconsin Farm Credit Directors Granted Restraining Order to Stop Control Grab

Order returns FCS Financial Services operations to rules that existed before takeover.

Following what they view as an illegal and hostile takeover of Wisconsin FCS Financial Services operations, individual Wisconsin directors of United FCS have filed for and received a temporary restraining order in Marathon County Circuit Court. The order preserves the status quo for FCS Financial Services by reverting to rules that existed before the Minnesota takeover and reopens all FCS Financial Services offices.

FCS Financial Services offices were closed Tuesday afternoon as a result of a set of resolutions passed by the Minnesota directors of United FCS. These resolutions stripped all power from the Wisconsin region, including the ability to make loans or pay expenses for day-to-day operations. The end result, explains Michael Copas, chairman of the United FCS board of directors, was that customers flooded the local offices with phone calls, and it was determined that full compliance with the resolutions was not viable. This restraining order reopens local offices and restores operations so Wisconsin customers can continue to be served locally. The restraining order is temporary in nature and a Marathon County judge has ordered a hearing in early March.

"The resolutions as passed are an example of an abuse of corporate power," notes Bob Kasieta, a Madison attorney retained to represent the individual directors. "My clients thought they were going to have a cooperative relationship with the Minnesota Farm Credit Regional organization. Instead, the Minnesota group effectively executed a hostile takeover of the Wisconsin region."

"The primary concern of my clients is customer service and to ensure that the Wisconsin Farm Credit System can continue to thrive," says Kasieta.

United FCS serves farmers and ranchers in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It is known locally as Farm Credit Services of Minnesota Valley and FCS Financial Services. Since its inception, the two regions have shared some expenses, but have celebrated local control and local governance. Both regions have independent staff, including a CEO, and each have representatives on the United FCS board of directors.

Copas has encouraged members to contact their United States congressional representatives, the Farm Credit Administration and those in power at Minnesota Valley FCS to express their concerns over this action. "The issue here is really whether Wisconsin Farm Credit Services will continue to exist for the benefit of its members," Copas says.

FCS Financial Services serves approximately 1,900 customer/owners in Wisconsin with offices in Wausau, Antigo, Marshfield, Medford, Stevens Point, Minocqua and Thorp.

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