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Wisconsin leads nation in family farm bankruptcies

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Wisconsin continues to top the nation in family farm bankruptcies.

The American Farm Bureau Federation says that July 2018 through June 2019, Wisconsin farmers filed 45 Chapter 12 bankruptcies. Data show the total was five fewer than the previous 12-month period but still No. 1 in the nation.

Chapter 12 is a section of the U.S. bankruptcy code that provides financially troubled family farmers with a streamlined path to repay all or part of their debts.

In Minnesota, bankruptcy filings increased by 11, to 31.

North Dakota had nine filings, up one from the previous period. South Dakota increased by 12, to 13.

The Journal Sentinel reports that with depressed milk prices besetting Wisconsin’s thousands of dairy operations, the state has led the country in farm bankruptcies in recent years.

Ronald Wirtz, regional outreach director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, also has pointed to Wisconsin’s smaller average farm size as a factor.

The Wisconsin total was five fewer than the previous 12-month period, according to the Farm Bureau, which used U.S. Courts data to compile the report.

Kansas, meanwhile, saw Chapter 12 filings increase by 13, to 39. In Minnesota, filings increased by 11, to 31.

Ronald Wirtz, regional outreach director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, also has pointed to Wisconsin’s smaller average farm size as a factor.

Wisconsin also has lots of farms — the 11th highest total in the nation, data from the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture shows. Even accounting for the relatively large number of farms, however, Wisconsin’s farm bankruptcy rate is among the highest in the country.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

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Tom Lally

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