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Number of farmer and rancher bankruptcies increase

Many predicted that the president’s trade war with China would impact U.S. farmers and ranchers. Now according to a new report, this is happening as the impasse continues. The number of farmers and ranchers filing bankruptcy since the spring of 2018 has jumped by 13% across the board to include farms of all sizes and types. All told, 13,000 farms disappeared in 2018 because owners could not make payments.

"Many farmers and ranchers are reaching their breaking point," said Matt Perdue, the government relations director at the National Farmers Union. "The consensus is that this is going to lead to a lot of exits and more consolidations."

Impacted areas

Farmers face a variety of challenges, but the most significant issues are:

  • Low prices: A surplus of soybeans, nuts, pork, and other products has led to low prices.
  • Expensive gear: Farmers run million-dollar operations where they may leverage land to secure a loan to buy necessary but costly machinery.
  • Average age: The average age of a farmer is 58, which means that many do not have the time to rebuild after this trade war.

Unique circumstances

Farmers, ranchers and fishermen typically use Chapter 12 if they file bankruptcy. This generally enables them to hold onto their property after they restructure the debt. However, these folks must be able to generate enough income to pay the debt while also operating a business. Those working in agriculture or other sectors may have questions about filing bankruptcy. Attorneys with experience handling bankruptcy here in Texas can be a tremendous help in determining what steps can be taken to move towards workable solutions.

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William T. Peckham
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