"One of the business plans was literally one sheet of notebook paper," Allred told the committee.
Additionally, while the loan program was intended to allow farmers to purchase real estate, livestock and equipment, the audit found that nearly half the loans went to restaurants, food production businesses, and wholesale industries.
Current Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick told legislators Monday he requested the audit of the department when he first took office last January.
Helmick said he was unaware of the problems with the loan program, other than hearsay.
"The rumor when I first took office was, you better look at that loan program," he said.
He said the loan committee consisted of four department employees, and indicated only one still works for the department.
Helmick said he would like to continue the loan program, which he has placed in hiatus, once sufficient regulations and oversight are put in place.
"We would like to continue this program. We think it fits our mission, and fits it very well," he said, adding, "We feel there's tremendous opportunity in agriculture, and we have to have this loan program."
Last week, House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, announced the findings of the preliminary audit had been turned over to the U.S. Attorney's Office for further investigation.
A final version of the audit is expected to be completed in February, Allred said.Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.