Bankruptcy reform and the effects on chapter 12 bankruptcy for farmers (and fishermen)
Neil E. Harl
The United States Constitution assures debtors a right to relief from creditors seeking to satisfy claims against debtors unable to pay their debts. For well over a century, farmers as debtors have enjoyed a favored status by being exempt from involuntary bankruptcy. The landmark 2005 bankruptcy legislation continues that favored status even though the thrust of most of the rest of the 2005 law tightens the rules for non-farm debtors in several significant respects. The 2005 bankruptcy amendments made Chapter 12 bankruptcy for family farmers a permanent part of the Bankruptcy Code, relaxed the rules on family farmers eligible to file for Chapter 12 bankruptcy relief, and created an innovative way to treat tax liability from liquidation of business assets. The contrast in Congressional treatment of farm debtors and non-farm debtors in the 2005 statute is striking and appears to be attributable to strong and effective political support from farm state Members of Congress, the widespread belief that farmers in financial difficulty are deserving of assistance, and that abuse of the bankruptcy system has been less of a problem with the agricultural sector.
2005 legislation, Bankruptcy, Chapter 12 bankruptcy, Farmers, Financial stress, Indebted farmers, Political support
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