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CME creates $100 million fund to protect farmers

The Chicago futures exchanges, working to repair market confidence after the MF Global collapse, Thursday announced a $100 million fund to protect agricultural customers from future problems at brokerages.

The money is available to U.S. family farmers and ranchers, groups that have been particularly harmed by MF Global. The fund is expected to start March 1, but no money will be available to MF Global victims.

CME Group Inc., owner of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade, called the fund an added security measure to protect food producers who need to hedge the value of their crops.

The MF Global bankruptcy on Oct. 31 and disclosure of an estimated $1.2 billion in missing customer money froze customers out of their accounts for weeks. Many since have had most of their funds restored, while others are waiting.

But a lack of access to the cash has disrupted the lives of traders and businesses. Some have accused CME of exercising poor oversight over MF Global, one of its biggest customers.

CME, however, has said it was victimized by MF Global too.

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