Of the eight American Midwest states, over 127 million acres are made up of agricultural land that, just twelve years ago, generated a market value of over $80 billion annually. That value steadily declined from 2013 to today. Meanwhile, farm bankruptcies climbed to their greatest peak since the 2009 economic crash, with total Midwest cases reaching 595 in the 2019 calendar year.
That total reflects a rapidly changing agricultural economy for all farmers, but especially for dairy farmers in the past five years and now for farmers facing COVID-19 restrictions. If you are a family farmer or fisher struggling to make ends meet, Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you file a successful Chapter 12 bankruptcy case in Pipestone, MN and the surrounding area to reorganize your debts and help you continue your farming operations for the long-term.
The Chapter 12 bankruptcy is a process exclusive to family farmers and fishers who generate at least 50% of their annual gross income through agricultural or fishing operations. Chapter 12 is designed to help farmers and fishers resolve debt through a manageable repayment plan lasting three to five years while maintaining fairness to the creditors involved. The goal of Chapter 12 bankruptcy is to provide long-term debt relief – a reorganization of one’s agricultural-related debts under adjusted and more favorable loan terms – for American agricultural operations and allow them to continue successfully under those adjusted terms even after a bankruptcy case has concluded.
A complex combination of trade wars, pricing systems, and a general market shift away from some types of dairy products (replacing milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products with a variety of dairy-free alternatives) have all coalesced to create a decline in the overall dairy economy. Hundreds of Midwest farmers have been forced to shift large-scale operations from dairy to the meat industry. Operations like Wylymar Farms in Wisconsin and Jones County Farm in Iowa have rapidly converted dairy farms with hundreds of milk cows into meat farms to stay afloat. In 2018 alone, almost 3,000 dairy farms converted, filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy, or closed down operations altogether. Farmers filing for Chapter 12 bankruptcy in the Pipestone, MN region and local Southern Minnesota areas can find expert counsel and guidance from Behm Law Group, Ltd. attorneys to help them regain control of their finances and stabilize their farming operations.
Economic struggles from the past five years aside, farmers and fishers face almost daily updates and challenges regarding COVID-19 related regulations, restrictions, and codes that make it more difficult than ever to maintain steady operations. While the distribution of vaccines promises to offer better conditions in the near future, farms will likely have longer recovery periods from a year of COVID struggles, much of which took place during peak growing, harvesting, and selling seasons. Numbers concerning the effects of the pandemic and 2020 restrictions are still trickling in, and the total financial impact for farmers and fishers after the economic assistance from the various stimulus relief packages has been extinguished will not be known for several months.