Farms and bankruptcy

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
Congress enacted Chapter Twelve of the Federal Bankruptcy Code in 1986, as a response to what was then seen as a temporary crisis in the farming industry. Chapter Twelve allows for the adjustment of debts of a family farmer who still has a regular income. It's designed for family farmers who don't qualify for Chapter 13 debt repayment because their debts are higher than what the law allows. Debtors in Chapter Eleven or Seven normally may be forced into involuntary bankruptcy. The law provides that farmers and nonprofit corporations may voluntarily come into bankruptcy court, but-- unlike other businesses-- they may not be forced into involuntary bankruptcy. An individual who is not considered a 'family farmer' may not obtain relief under Chapter Twelve unless certain conditions are met. For example, total debt, both secured and unsecured, may not exceed one-point-five-million dollars. Eighty percent or more of the farmer's total debt must come from farming, and more than 50 percent of the debtor's gross income for the prior year must have been from the farming operation. Any type of bankruptcy can have long-term consequences, so it should be studied carefully if you're considering Chapter Twelve. For more information about your farm and bankruptcy, contact a bankruptcy attorney.

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