Update: The Wall Street Journal Profiles Bankrupt Farmer and Forgets to Mention That He is Living in a Million Dollar House and is Charged with Fraud.
By Jim Mundorf
A couple weeks back I wrote, THE WALL STREET JOURNALS AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT IS OFFICIALLY ASS BACKWARDS. It goes into detail about and article that was written by Jesse Newman and Patrick McGroarty in the Wall Street Journal entitled Two Brothers Tied to the Land Face the Wrath of Americas Farm Bust. It is about Ron McMartin Jr. a farmer who ran a large operation and went broke. I wrote that the article was a good example of a misleading headline. I wrote that it was a good read and full of valuable information. Since writing the article some things have been brought to my attention and I have done a little looking into Ron McMartin Jr. So I now have to confess that I was wrong. The article is not a good read full of valuable information, it is a complete and total load of flaming crap.
What I really want to call it is a pack of lies, but what they did is just sort of tip toe around the truth. What they did is leave out so much valuable, interesting, easily gathered information, that is essential in telling this story that I have no problem calling them liars.
The Journal article paints Ron McMartin as a farmer who simply expanded his farm to fast and now that there has been a downturn in grain prices he has went broke. Just another victim of the "Farm Bust." I wrote that the article raises almost as many questions as it answers. What I have found out since, is that the answers are readily available and now that I have a couple, I simply can't understand why the Journal would try so hard to piss on their readers while telling them its raining.
One of the questions I raised is that, they write about how he lives in his office and make you think that he is practically homeless, but then they write,
"As often as he can, he escapes to his lake house in Minnesota. He pickles green beans there, and taps maple trees for syrup. That refuge may be in danger. BMO says Ron misled the bank about his farm’s financial condition to secure credit. It could seek to hold him responsible for the farm’s debts."
I thought it was weird that the broke guy has, "a lake house in Minnesota." Once I wrote about it I posted the article on Twitter and a someone commented that I should Google Ron McMartin lake house. So I did and I could not believe what I found. Turns out the folks at the Journal weren't the first ones to write an article on McMartin. His lake house appeared in Lake and Home Magazine. You can read it here, A Woods and Water Retreat on Idyllic Island Lake. What you'll find is that Ron's lake house is actually more like a 53 acre compound, complete with a large shop, 2 Cabins, a tavern with a commercial grade kitchen, and a building he calls his, "Gator Garage" built specifically to house his fleet of John Deere gators. From landscaping to construction he literally spared no expense and has no problem bragging all about it in the article. One of the cabins he had built includes a hydraulic staircase that raises to make more room for entertaining.
The fact that this information exists and is so readily available and the Journal just past over it is mind boggling to me. But that's not even the worst part remember how the Journal said, "That refuge may be in danger. BMO says Ron misled the bank about his farm’s financial condition to secure credit. It could seek to hold him responsible for the farm’s debts." Actually there's no, "maybe" about it. The people at Ag Week have been covering the McMartin story with a fine tooth comb and their website and articles all came up when I googled the lake house. Turns out exactly two weeks before the Journal published their article, BMO Harris's trustee filed a complaint of fraud against McMartin. The reason McMartin still has the lake compound is because through a series of complicated money transfers between his father, his corporation and himself he was able to transfer the Lake property into a trust that he says would benefit his daughters. He did simply so that he could keep it and the people who he owes millions of dollars to can't repossess it.
I can't imagine why the Journal would write such a misleading article for no apparent reason. It seems like they wanted to write about an average farmer going broke and they found McMartin and stuck his name in the article that they wanted to write. The truth is Ron McMartin Jr. is a moron and a crook. The Journal pretends to be telling the story of Agriculture for their readers, but by painting McMartin as an average farmer, what they have done is made people who don't know better think that the average farmer is a moron and a crook.
What is really confounding to me is that the true story of Ron McMartin is actually much more interesting than the one the Journal made up. It is a Wolf of Wall Street type of tale set in North Dakota. Maybe they could have interviewed some of the real victims. The local business owners that McMartin screwed out of millions of dollars. I wonder what they're thinking when they see him drive through town in his brand new pickup(also left out of the story) on the way to his million dollar compound on the lake. I can't imagine the anger they felt when reading the Wall Street Journals bullshit.
Jan. 23 2018 An update to the update: Recently in court it was revealed that in 2013 McMartin’s Lake home was valued at $2.498 million, then when he needed his “trust” to buy it he changed the value to $1.26 million.
For the actual story of Ron McMartin Jr. follow this link: http://www.agweek.com/tags/ron-mcmartin/