I was honored to be invited to speak on a panel that included The Honorable Thomas P. Argesti, United States Bankruptcy Judge, W.D. PA, Jill Locnikar, Assistant U.S. Attorney, and Keri Ebeck, Esquire on December 6, 2019, at the Allegheny County Bar Association 32nd Annual Bankruptcy Symposium. The panel was moderated by appointed Chapter 12 Trustee, Ronda J. Winnecour. As part of the panel, I was able to speak to attendees about the newly revamped Chapter 12 bankruptcy process implemented in the Western District of Pennsylvania along with the other panelist. Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code provides specific relief to family farmers and farming operations of certain sizes to seek relief from their debt and protect their assets.
The new Chapter 12 process and forms are geared toward streamlining the Chapter 12 cases filed in the Western District of Pennsylvania with an aim at reducing overall costs of the process and bringing additional transparency for all parties involved in any future Chapter 12 case. The implantation of the new process and forms appears to have shortened the process for confirming a Chapter 12 plan of reorganization based on several cases that I have handled since the new process started. During the Symposium, I was also able to speak and engage attendees’ questions regarding practice pointers based on my experiences, as well as the current state of farming generally throughout the country, including crop and dairy farm operations of all sizes. Many experts have predicted that there will likely be an increase in Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings in upcoming years, as well as filings related to other chapters of the Bankruptcy Code as well. Therefore, having this new process in place already may have come at an important time for farmers seeking relief from their debts.