Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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Sunrise, an Ohio agricultural cooperative, owns one-third of Lund, which sells crop insurance. Sunrise pays “patronage,” a rebate, to its Ohio and Michigan members based on how much Lund insurance they buy. The Risk Management Agency (RMA) within the USDA, administers Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) programs. Patronage payments were prohibited until 2000, when Congress authorized some rebating if permitted under state law. Congress changed course in 2008, prohibiting patronage payments with a grandfather clause, 7 U.S.C. 1508(a)(9)(B)(iii) stating that the prohibition does not apply to a patronage dividend paid: “by an entity that was approved by the [FCIC] to make such payments for the 2005, 2006, or 2007 reinsurance year.” From 2008-2016, Sunrise was approved to pay patronage as a “grandfathered” entity. In 2016, another farming cooperative, Trupointe, merged into Sunrise. Trupointe had 4100 members, did not sell crop insurance, and was not eligible to pay patronage. Sunrise argued to the RMA that under Ohio law and federal tax law, when one company merges into another, the surviving company is the same entity that existed before the merger. The RMA disagreed, concluding that the merger would make Sunrise ineligible to pay patronage and defining “entity” to mean the same entity that it approved for any of the 2005-2007 reinsurance years, with the same structure and relative size; any mergers would be considered a different entity, regardless of name or how taxed. The Sixth Circuit held that the agency was not permitted to impose additional eligibility requirements on approved entities that are unmoored from the statute. View "Sunrise Cooperative v. United States Department of Agriculture" on Justia Law

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Perkins has actively operated a 200-acre Kentucky farm since 1970. Her operation expanded to cultivate approximately 9,500 acres in various partnerships. Perkins encountered financial trouble in 2014. The partnerships filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases. Perkins retired from teaching. The Chapter 11 bankruptcies were dismissed after liquidating substantially all of the partnerships’ assets and making over four million dollars of payments to BB&T. In 2016 Perkins sought Chapter 12 bankruptcy protection. Creditors' proofs of claim totaled $4,012,908.79. In the preceding year, Perkins received $279,000 of gross income from her farm, $764,472 from her partnerships, $161,571 of capital gains from equipment sales, and $132,360 from wages, pension, and social security. BB&T objected to her plan, which projected that $18,950 could be paid annually to unsecured creditors over the plan’s five-year life and that a Chapter 7 liquidation would produce no payments to unsecured creditors. The plan proposed to pay BB&T annual installments over 20 years at 4.5% interest. The bankruptcy court rejected BB&T’s objection and confirmed the plan. The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed. Chapter 12 relief, 11 U.S.C. 109(f), is available to family fishermen and family farmers, defined as an “individual . . . engaged in a farming operation whose aggregate debts do not exceed $4,153,150,” and who receives more than half of her gross income from “such farming operation.” The bankruptcy court properly found Perkins to be a family farmer and confirmed the plan as feasible, providing proper treatment to secured claims, and meeting the best interests of creditors test. View "In re: Perkins" on Justia Law

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Perkins has actively operated a 200-acre Kentucky farm since 1970. Her operation expanded to cultivate approximately 9,500 acres in various partnerships. Perkins encountered financial trouble in 2014. The partnerships filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases. Perkins retired from teaching. The Chapter 11 bankruptcies were dismissed after liquidating substantially all of the partnerships’ assets and making over four million dollars of payments to BB&T. In 2016 Perkins sought Chapter 12 bankruptcy protection. Creditors' proofs of claim totaled $4,012,908.79. In the preceding year, Perkins received $279,000 of gross income from her farm, $764,472 from her partnerships, $161,571 of capital gains from equipment sales, and $132,360 from wages, pension, and social security. BB&T objected to her plan, which projected that $18,950 could be paid annually to unsecured creditors over the plan’s five-year life and that a Chapter 7 liquidation would produce no payments to unsecured creditors. The plan proposed to pay BB&T annual installments over 20 years at 4.5% interest. The bankruptcy court rejected BB&T’s objection and confirmed the plan. The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed. Chapter 12 relief, 11 U.S.C. 109(f), is available to family fishermen and family farmers, defined as an “individual . . . engaged in a farming operation whose aggregate debts do not exceed $4,153,150,” and who receives more than half of her gross income from “such farming operation.” The bankruptcy court properly found Perkins to be a family farmer and confirmed the plan as feasible, providing proper treatment to secured claims, and meeting the best interests of creditors test. View "In re: Perkins" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Purdy borrowed from Citizens First, using his dairy cattle as collateral. Purdy refinanced in 2009, executing an “Agricultural Security Agreement" that granted Citizens a purchase money security interest in “all . . . Equipment, Farm Products, [and] Livestock (including all increase and supplies) . . . currently owned [or] hereafter acquired.” Citizens perfected this security interest by filing with the Kentucky Secretary of State. Purdy and Citizens executed two similar security agreements in 2010 and 2012, which were perfected. After the 2009 refinancing, Purdy increased the size of his herd, entering into “Dairy Cow Lease” agreements with Sunshine. The parties also executed security agreements and Sunshine filed financing statements. In 2012, milk production became less profitable. Purdy sold off cattle, including many bearing Sunshine’s brand, and filed a voluntary Chapter 12 bankruptcy petition. Both Citizens and Sunshine sought relief from the stay preventing the removal of the livestock. In 2014, the Sixth Circuit held that Citizens failed to demonstrate that the "Leases” were actually security agreements in disguise. On remand, the bankruptcy court determined that all cattle sold at a 2014 auction were subject to Citizens’ security interest. The district court affirmed, awarding Citzens $402,354.54. The Sixth Circuit affirmed; the bankruptcy court did not contravene its mandate by holding a hearing on the question of ownership. View "Sunshine Heifers, LLC v. Citizens First Bank" on Justia Law