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Friday, 16 June 2017 11:27

Southwest Michigan farming/trucking firm files for Chapter 12 bankruptcy

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Southwest Michigan farming/trucking firm files for Chapter 12 bankruptcy FILE STOCK PHOTO

NILES — A family farming and trucking operation in Southwest Michigan is restructuring its finances through Chapter 12 bankruptcy protection, according to a filing Wednesday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan.

Minisee Farms Inc., 1419 Thomsen Road in Niles, said in the filing that it had assets of $90,500 and liabilities of $393,484.

The company’s listed assets include $3,000 in cash on hand, $3,500 in inventory, $56,000 in farm animals and farm machinery, $28,000 in other machinery.

According to the court filing, the company has five secured creditors, including CNH Capital America for a combined $53,000 for securities for a tractor and machinery, Mercedes-Benz Financial for $27,415 for a Freightliner truck, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency for $6,500 for farm animals and bales of hay.

Unsecured creditors listed in the filing include the Michigan Department of Treasury for $30,000 in back fuels taxes and the USDA Farm Service Agency for $277,569 in loans and interest.

Minisee Farms said that it had generated $70,000 in gross revenue in 2016, and $15,000 through June 14 of this year.

The company also maintains land leases for 152 acres of property with several different landowners.

A Chapter 12 bankruptcy allows a distressed family farming- or fishing-related business “with regular income” to develop a plan to repay all or part of its debts, per information provided on the federal court website.

Minisee Farms must submit a plan to the court by Sept. 12 of this year.

According to the filing, Minisee Farms is being represented in the case by Kalamazoo-based Kerry Hettinger PLC. Requests for comment were not returned as this report was published.

Minisee Farms has not been authorized to operate on the road since Jan. 3 of this year, according to U.S. Department of Transportation records. The company listed three trucks, three trailers and three drivers in its DOT licensing. It was authorized to haul general freight, grain/feed and hay, agricultural and farm supplies, and commodities, among other items. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Minisee Farms had one violation in October 2016 for failure to pay a civil penalty.

The company’s CEO, Wilbur Minisee II, in 2008 pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to make false statements to the USDA Farm Services Agency in a scheme to secure and later default on loans from the agency and pocket part of the proceeds, according to documents filed at the time in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

He was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $305,878.68 in restitution related to the FSA loans, according to court records.

It is unclear if the loans listed in the bankruptcy stem from the criminal case.

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Joe Boomgaard

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jboomgaard@mibiz.com

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