Agricultural law is a diverse and critical area of law vital to Northwest Oklahoma. Agricultural law deals not only with plants and animals, but also with land use, environmental rules, intellectual property protection and food product issues. As farming processes continue to become more sophisticated, issues associated with intellectual property, trade, finance, credit and general commercial and secured transactions arise and must be handled professionally. The attorneys at the offices of Mitchel, Gaston, Riffel & Riffel, P.L.L.C., have experience in working with agricultural producers relating to finance, credit and general complex reorganization of farming entities, as well as assisting producers and elevators insuring financial transactions are properly secured.
Financial Reorganization in Bankruptcy. Chapter 12 bankruptcy reorganization was added to the Bankruptcy Code back in 1986. It is designed specifically for the reorganization of family farms. Chapter 12 is only available to persons meeting the definition a “family farmer” as set forth in applicable bankruptcy statutes. The family farmer can be individuals, corporations or family partners. Throughout the Chapter 12 process, the debtor maintains control over the farming operations and is responsible for filing and maintaining a plan of reorganization for the repayment of debts and the reorganization of the farming operation. Through the Chapter 12 process, the farmer will work closely with a U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee in completing and creating a plan of repayment to creditors, a plan of operation reorganization, and upon completion of the plan, a discharge will be received. In most cases, unsecured debt is usually discharged at the end of three to five years, and secured creditors are paid based on the value of the secured asset. This is a tremendous tool in assuring that a family farm maintains viability.
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