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This is a hard time to be a farmer. With falling prices and escalating economic tensions, many farmers are watching their meager, hard-earned profits slip away. While farmers are known for their resilience, some financial realities are impossible to escape. What are they supposed to do when the markets turn against them? How can they get out from under crushing debt?
Leading The Way In Troubled Farms
Unfortunately, these questions are all too common around here. As of today, Wisconsin tops a sobering list of states where farmers are in the greatest trouble. More Wisconsin farmers filed for bankruptcy than anywhere else in the country, and the trend seems set to continue.
Farming has always been hard, but the current level of distress is unlike anything in recent memory. The bankruptcy rate in farming is fully double what it was 10 years ago. Half of all dairy farms in the state have shut down in the last 15 years. Even more disturbing, a record number of Wisconsin farmers committed suicide in 2017. Farmers face despair and hopelessness that far exceeds other industries when their farms fail. Farming is more than just a business—it’s a way of life.
Chapter 12: Hope For The Hopeless
With debts and capital investments that go far beyond most people, some farmers aren’t even eligible for traditional bankruptcy. Fortunately, there’s a special kind of protection that is only available to family farms. Chapter 12 bankruptcy allows farmers to consolidate large amounts of debt and negotiate a payment plan that works for them.
If you are struggling at your family farm, the best way to evaluate your options is through a consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Farms are complicated, so you need to find someone who knows what they’re talking about. Many people think that bankruptcy is the end, but that’s not true. Properly done, it’s a beginning that allows you to get the fresh start you need. It erases unmanageable debt and puts you back in control of your life. For a lot of farmers, that’s a welcome relief.