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Milwaukee, WI Bankruptcy Law Blog

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Bankruptcy Statistics of 2017

Standing Out In a Bad Way

Those of us that live in Wisconsin know we are basically living in paradise. We have the best cheese, the best snowmobile trails, and the best NFL team. But the latest bankruptcy data from the U.S. federal courts shows that we also stand out in a bad way. The Western District of Wisconsin had more Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies than any other court district in the nation last year.

There are 94 federal court districts in the United States, and Wisconsin is home to two of them. Wisconsin’s Western and Eastern Federal Court Districts encompass exactly what you would expect them to, the western and eastern halves of the state. The table below summarizes the bankruptcy cases that were filed in Wisconsin’s Western and Eastern Districts last year by bankruptcy type.


TOTAL BANKRUPTCY FILINGS IN WISCONSIN FOR THE YEAR ENDING

DECEMBER 31, 2017 BY CHAPTER

District

Chapter

Total

 

7

11

12

13


Eastern

8,367

13

17

4,237

12,634

Western

3,674

24

28

769

4,495

Statewide

12,041

37

45

5,006

17,129


As you can see, Chapter 7 bankruptcies, which wipe away almost all debt so the filer can start over with a clean slate are still the most popular type of bankruptcy in the state despite the fact that Congress has tried to push people to file under Chapter 13 by making it a bit more difficult to qualify to file under Chapter 7. Under Chapter 13, a debtor is put on a court-supervised budget and repayment plan for a few years, so some debts are paid off instead of forgiven.

What the chart doesn’t show is that the Western District of Wisconsin’s 28 Chapter 12 bankruptcies make it the federal court district with the most farm bankruptcies filed in 2017.

Optimism about bio-fuels inspired many farmers to take on debt in order to upgrade equipment or buy more land, but new advances in oil and gas fracking have made natural gas a more attractive alternative to power generators and consumers than biofuels. The biofuel bust has flooded the markets with grain, which drives down prices and makes it difficult to pay off debts.  

Farmers who are teetering on the edge of insolvency should not wait until they hit rock bottom to seek help. Being proactive about finding a way forward can make a huge difference, especially if multiple creditors are involved.


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933 North Mayfair Road, Suite 107, Milwaukee, WI 53226
| Phone: 414-436-8428