Burley Coop dissolution process nearing end

The court-ordered dissolution of the Burley Coop is nearing the last stages of the legal process. I hope all potential class members have submitted the required documents.

The information notice sent in December set the deadline as Jan. 29 to submit those documents. A “fairness “ hearing to allow objections to any part of the mediated settlement as well as comments on the potential 25% reward fees to the plaintiffs’ lawyers will be held Feb. 24. The deadline to submit comments was noticed to be Jan. 29 as well.

Several letters of objections have been received by the court. Per the proposed settlement, an amount of $1.5 million is to be gifted from each co-op member’s personal asset portion to go to a yet-unnamed new organization for advocacy of burley and dark growers.

All members will be assessed this portion — approximately 7% of your potential payment from remaining co-op assets. It will be several hundreds of dollars in any event taken from you.

You will no longer have any claim to your money or its use if this is allowed to continue. It appears the initial directors will be nearly the same as the current coop directors.

Many growers object to this taking of their personal portion especially since the Council for Burley Tobacco already does the needed advocacy work since 1971. All retired growers (about 75% of the potential class) will suffer this deduction as well, with obviously no hope of any returns.

A lawyer, Hank Graddy, has been engaged to speak on behalf of anyone that objects on Feb. 24 at the hearing. You don’t have to attend, nor will it cost you any money. His retainer has been funded by me personally to date.

If you wish to be included in his list of objecting growers, please send your name/address to myself — quarlesnet@aol.com — or his office, hgraddy@graddylaw.com, as soon as possible. Phone calls are welcome to me at 859-948-6281.

Roger Quarles

Georgetown

Note: This letter was paid by Roger Quarles to the Kentucky Press Association to be distributed to member newspapers. Quarles serves on the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association as the District 5 representative and serves on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee.