Rustle up some lawyer papers, Tyson Fresh Meats' city slickers are bringing the legal herd home to the Easterday Ranches in Franklin County.

Tyson Fresh Meats is suing Easterday Ranches for fraud. Tyson alleges that Easterday Ranches, starting sometime in 2016, falsified records and billed them for feeding 200,000 head of cattle that they never delivered.

Tyson claims it's cost them $225,000,000 and they are seeking a Franklin County Superior Court for a "court appointed receiver" to take control over Easterday Ranches. The losses stem from false cattle sales and feed costs.

Easterday Ranches operates one of the largest agriculture operations in Washington, with 25,000 acres of farmland, a colossal dairy operation and thousands of head of cattle used for meat processing.

One major cattle-feeding facility is called the "North Lot" in Franklin County. Feedlots raise cattle until they reach their approximate 1,400 pound slaughter weight. Young cattle from breeders and cow-calf operations are usually purchased at around 700 pounds. When the cattle are grown, the feedlot delivers cattle to the processing plant.

It is alleged the Easterday scheme included the buying of fake young cattle, then charging Tyson for feeding them. Then, the story goes, Easterday Ranches would allegedly feed the cattle that didn't exist and bill Tyson for that feed. Later, the cattle operator would deliver some actual cattle, but not all of the head to Tyson, when the "on-paper" cattle would be market ready.

Tyson Fresh Meats discovered the missing cattle in December when the company evaluated its inventory. Court documents say Cody Easterday has admitted to creating the scheme to make up for more than $200 million in losses he absorbed in the commodities trading markets.

Industry experts say the falsification of that large of a number, 200,000 head of cattle being "fed" for a number of years, allegedly fraudulently, is a very big deal, specifically, where was the industry oversight?

Ironically, 54,000 REAL heads of cattle at Easterday Ranches are in danger if their feeding and medication schedules are halted or altered pending the resolution of a restraining order Tyson Fresh Meats filed against them. Tyson is asking for a third party to step in and administer the cattle-feeding business until the lawsuit and financial matters are settled.

The case, Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. V.  Easterday Ranches, Inc., is expected to go before a Franklin County judge in February. No court date has been set.

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