Facing Farm Financial Stress: Assessing the Bankruptcy Option

By:Peggy Kirk Hall, Associate Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law Wednesday, August 12th, 2020
Facing Farm Financial Stress Law Bulletin

Farming has always been an unpredictable way to make a living, and that unpredictability can lead to financial stress.  Whether caused by down markets, weather impacts, rising input costs, high land values, poor decision making,  medical issues or a host of other unforeseen circumstances, serious financial stress can be a reality a farmer must face. 

Filing bankruptcy can be one way to address farm financial stress.  But because of its consequences, bankruptcy is not a decision to take lightly and might not be the best option.  Our newest resources target farmers who are dealing with financial challenges and considering bankruptcy.   Facing Farm Financial Stress:  An Overview of the Bankruptcy Option offers a seven part series of law bulletins and infographics focused on bankruptcy issues for farmers.  The series covers:

  • Assessing the bankruptcy option.  Steps to take and considerations to make when dealing with financial stress, including alternatives to bankruptcy and farmer to farmer advice from families that have been through the bankruptcy process.
  • An overview of bankruptcy law.  We explain and visualize the legal process, people, institutions and legal terms involved in bankrptcy with a focus on Chapter 12, the law reserved for qualifying farmers and fishermen.
  • Thriving after a farm bankruptcy.  Ideas for setting a course to attain farm financial stability and reestablish relationships after filing bankruptcy, including farmer to farmer advice from those who've survived bankruptcy.

Our team of authors, which included myself along with OSU's David Marrison, Hannah Scott and Chris Zoller--created the resources with support from the USDA's National Agriculture Library and in partnership with the National Agricultural Law Center (NALC).  The series is available on our Farm Office site here or on NALC's site here.