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The Nebraska Public Service Commission on Tuesday issued a cease-and-desist order to an Axtell seed business.

The PSC said in a news release that Roberts Seed Inc. has been operating for more than a year as an unlicensed grain dealer.

The PSC said the business filed an application for a grain dealer license in April 2017 but failed to fulfill the requirements to receive the license. Despite that, the business continued to operate.

The PSC said it has made numerous attempts over the past year to work with the company to complete the application process to get a grain dealer license. Each time, company representatives indicated they would provide information but then failed to provide all of the necessary documentation, the commission said.

Teresa Fisher, the office assistant at Roberts Seed, said the cease-and-desist order covers only the practice of purchasing grain directly from farmers and reselling it as seed. Fisher said the company has no active contracts for that business and essentially has already stopped doing it.

Roberts offers other services including grain cleaning and retail sales of seed from dealers, which are not affected by the order, Fisher said.

She said the company has not been able to produce some of the documents needed to complete the licensing process, such as a 2017 tax return, because they don't exist yet.

"In our defense, what it comes down to is some of the documents they want from us, we don't have yet," Fisher said.

The PSC has scheduled a hearing June 18 at 11 a.m. at the Minden City Hall, at which Roberts Seed will be required to show cause as as to why it should not be assessed civil penalties for operating without a license. It also could face criminal penalties.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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