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Express Grain bankruptcy: now it's down to just five farmers contesting their grain interests

Tuesday, July 5, 2022, 7:56 pm News Flash Archive

What once were over 200 farmers contesting their interests in the bankrupt Express Grain grain holdings, have now been whittled down to the last five, according to a motion filed this afternoon by Express Grain, UMB Bank, and the other Warehouse Receipt Holders, StoneX and Macquarie.

The five farmers who still have live claims to pursue at a 557 trial are:

Belmont Farms, LLC
Hunter Alderman
Kyle Mills d/b/a Kyle Mills Farms
Kyle Knight Farms, LLC
James H. Alderman

The "557 process" is mandated by the federal bankruptcy code to settle competing interests in grain when a warehouse goes bankrupt while still holding farmers' grain.

The Taxpayers Channel's analysis identified around 260 farmers who were owed money for grain they delivered to EG but for which they were never paid. See our comprehensive reporting here: Money owed to farmers for unpaid grain deliveries made to bankrupt Express Grain tops $49 million

But the 557 process was sidetracked when the bankruptcy court sent the matter to mediation. Ultimately, a settlement agreement was worked out, but most of the farmers were unsatisfied by it. EG owes somewhere north of $210 million to hundreds of creditors, but the entire company was liquidated for less than $85 million. The banks and certain other lenders had secured claims, which means they jumped to the "head of the line," leaving almost nothing to pay the farmers, who are owed around $49 million.

The court approved the settlement agreement nonetheless. See our reporting here: Express Grain Bankruptcy Court approves Settlement Agreement over disputed grain proceeds

Around a hundred farmers joined the "disclaiming" group, which means they renounced their claims to the grain that they were not paid for. According to our analysis, these claims topped $30 million of the $49 million owed the farmers. The "disclaiming" farmers will mostly try their luck with Don Barrett's lawsuit against UMB Bank. Barrett claims that UMB Bank was in cahoots with EG to shanghai the farmers' grain which was never paid for. So far, Barrett has not presented any evidence to back up his claim, but the day is still young for that litigation.

It is unknown to the public how many farmers ultimately chose to "settle" and receive a portion of what is owed them.

Under the settlement agreement, those farmers who did not choose to settle and did not choose to renounce their claims are known as "non-consenting" farmers, who will argue their claims in the 557 trial.

Today's filing, however, discloses that there are but five non-consenting farmers left. The motion asks the court to hold a preliminary hearing to ascertain whether any or all of the five remaining claimants wish to proceed in court. If so, the 557 trial will be scheduled and held soon.

The total amount in contention for these five remaining farmers is around $190,000.

To read the motion filed today by EG, UMB Bank, StoneX, and Macquarie, click here: Motion to set initial hearing for non-electing farmers

It would appear that the long, drawn out agony of the Express Grain saga is getting much closer to a conclusion, which will leave everybody unhappy, as well as cheated out of some or all of what they are owed.

To read all our coverage of the Express Grain bankruptcy case, see here: Index of Express Grain articles


John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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