Bankruptcy laws enable debtors in financial distress to settle their obligations by petitioning a federal court and developing a plan to either reorganize the debt or divide available assets among creditors. Bankruptcy thus allows certain debtors to escape amassed debt, which may not be paid in full, providing them with a “fresh start” upon completion of the bankruptcy process. Bankruptcy also creates an avenue for creditors to fairly and equitably share in the debtor’s available assets. Liquidation may be the only choice for a farmer too deeply in debt to recover, while reorganization may enable farmers to keep their land. Municipal and business bankruptcies may also impact agriculture enterprises. Each type of bankruptcy proceeding has a potential impact on farmers and agriculture as a whole. Read the full overview.

Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

United States Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. §§ 101-1532
Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, (BAPCPA) Pub. L. No. 109-8, (codified in several sections of 11 U.S.C.), 119 Stat. 23 (2005).
Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 Pub. L. No. 116-51, 11 U.S.C. §§ 101(18), 133 Stat. 1075 (2019).
Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019,11 U.S.C. §§ 1181-1195
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Pub. L. No. 116–136, Title I, § 1113, 116 Stat. 281, 310 (2020).
Covid-19 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act of 2021, Pub. L. No. 117–5, (codified in several sections of 11 U.S.C.), 135 Stat. 249 (2021).
Bankruptcy Threshold Adjustment and Technical Corrections Act (Corrections Act) (S.3823), Pub. L. No. 117-151, 136 Stat. 1298 (2022).


Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, 1001-9037
Bankruptcy, 17 C.F.R. §§ 190.01-190.10

Case Law

Case Law Index for Agricultural Bankruptcy

Center Research Publications

Updated Compilation of States’ Statutory Agricultural Lien Charts (Brown, 2021)
Lending for Livestock, Credit for Crops: Effect of Bankruptcy (Brown, 2021)
Bankruptcy on the Farm: A Look at the Chapter 12 Option (Brown, 2020)
Facing Farm Financial Stress: An Overview of the Bankruptcy Option (Kirk Hall et al, 2020)
An Overview of Bankruptcy Law for Farmers, (Scott & Kirk Hall, 2020)
Thriving After a Farm Bankruptcy (Marrison, et al., 2020)
The Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Process (infographic) (Scott & Kirk Hall, 2020)
Chapter 12 Bankruptcy: People and Institutions (infographic) (Scott & Kirk Hall, 2020)
Facing Farm Financial Stress: Assessing the Bankruptcy Option, (Kirk Hall et al., 2020)
Thriving After a Farm Bankruptcy (infographic) (Kirk Hall et al., 2020)
Potential Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Changes, (Mitchell and Rumley, 2019)
Bankruptcy Reform and Family Farmers: Correcting the Disposable Income Problem (Schneider, 2006)
2005 Commercial Law Update (Meyer, 2006)
Are You a Debt Relief Agency? You Might Be Surprised and You Should Be Concerned (Schneider, 2006)
An Introduction to Chapter 12 Bankruptcy: Restructuring the Family Farm (Schneider, 2005)
Bankruptcy Reform: Changes to Chapter 12 – Adjustment of Debts of a Family Farmer (Schneider, 2005)
Bankruptcy Reform and Family Farmers (Schneider, 2005)
Determining the Proper “Cramdown” Rate of Interest Post-Till v. SCS Credit Corp. (Pittman, 2004)
Agricultural Zoning, Bankruptcy, and the Rural Homestead (Laurence, 2003)
Husband and Wife Farmers in Ag Bankruptcies: “Tools of the Trade” Exemption (Pittman, 2002)
Statutory Agricultural Liens Under Revised Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code (Schneider, 2002)

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017

Bankruptcy Basics: A Primer (CRS 2022)

Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC:


Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Bankruptcy:

Estate Planning/Divorce
Federal Loan Programs (Farmers Home Administration/Farm Service Agency)
Land Sales/Real Estate Finance, Mortgages/Foreclosures
Uniform Commercial Code

Reference Resources

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Farm Sector Income & Finances (ERS)

America’s Farms and Ranches at a Glance (Whitt et al., 2022)
Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Rates Have Increased in Most Agricultural States (Key, Law, and Whitt 2021)
Larger Farms and Younger Farmers Are More Vulnerable to Financial Stress (Key, 2019)
Farmer Bankruptcies and Farm Exits in the United States, 1899-2002 (Stam, 2004)
Are Bankruptcies Behind the Drop in Farm Numbers? (Amber Waves, 2004)
Do Farmers Need a Separate Chapter in the Bankruptcy Code? (1997)

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Bankruptcy Tax Guide (Revised February 2023)
Farmer’s Tax Guide (Pub. 225)
Agricultural Employer’s Tax Guide (Pub. 51, 2023)

U.S Bankruptcy Courts (U.S. Courts)

Bankruptcy Basics
Bankruptcy Basics Glossary
Discharge in Bankruptcy
Chapter 7: Liquidation
Chapter 9: Municipality Bankruptcy
Chapter 11: Business Reorganization
Chapter 12: Family Farmer or Family Fisherman Bankruptcy
Chapter 13: Individual Debt Adjustment
Chapter 15 – Ancillary and Other Cross-Border Cases
Caseload Statistics Data Tables – Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy Forms
Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Courses

Congressional Resources

Reports on Farm Bankruptcy (Government Accountability Office)
U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House Committee on Agriculture
U.S. House Committee on Financial Services
U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary

Other Federal Resources

Bankruptcy Information Sheet (Department of Justice)
U. S. Trustee Program (Department of Justice)
Approved Credit Counseling Agencies (Department of Justice)
Approved Debtor Education Providers (Department of Justice)


Financial State of Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Filings (Goeringer, Rabinowitz, and Secor, 2023)
Chapter 12 Bankruptcy as an Option to Relieve Financial Distress (Goeringer, Rabinowitz, and Secor, 2023)
Chapter 12 Bankruptcy – Proposing a Reorganization Plan in Good Faith (McEowen, 2023)
What Creditors Need to Know About Chapter 12 “Family Farmer” Bankruptcy (Martin Pringle, 2020)
Survival Analysis of farm bankruptcy filings: Evaluating the time to completion of chapter 12 bankruptcy cases (Dinterman & Katchova 2020)
Grapes of Impact: The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 and Chapter 12 (Mayson, 2020)
Financial Stress and Farm Bankruptcies in U.S. Agriculture (Dinterman et al., 2018)
Farm Bankruptcies in the United States (Presentation at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum), (Katchova & Dinterman, 2017)
Ag Bankruptcies (Massouh, 2016)
Chapter 12 Reorganizations (Kunkel, U. MN Ext., 2015)
Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Taxation: Did BAPCPA Really Change Tax Claims to Unsecured General Creditor Status? (McEowen, IA St. U., Center for Ag Law & Taxation, 2013)
The Assumption or Rejection of Executory Contracts in Bankruptcy: Are Commodity Contracts Within a Safe Harbor? (McEowen & Eckley, IA St. U., Center for Ag Law & Taxation, 2012)
Topic: Disaster/Risk Management (FLAG, 2009-2020)
Major Developments in Chapter 12 Bankruptcy (Harl et al., IA St. U., 2005)
Is Bankruptcy the Answer? (OK Bar Ass’n., 2001, Revised 2016)
Rights of Farmers in Failed Grain Elevators (McEowen & Harl, 2000)
Ch. 12 Bankruptcy: Hope for Financially Stressed Farmers (Moore, OK St. U.)
Ch. 12 Bankruptcy in Retrospect: It’s Impact on Agribusiness Firms (WA St. U.)

Additional Resources

Bankruptcy Annotations (Washburn Agricultural Law & Tax Report, 2021)
A Review of Farm Bankruptcy (Tidgren, IA St. U. Center for Ag Law & Taxation, 2020)
Farm Bankruptcy Basics (Peiffer, 2016)
Rough Economic Times Elevate Bankruptcy Legal Issues (McEowen, 2015)
How Should Family Farmers Find an Attorney for Debt Restructuring or Bankruptcy? (IA St. U. Center for Agricultural Law & Taxation, 2014)
Bankruptcy Exemptions by State (NOLO)
Bankruptcy Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)
American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI)
Farm Bankruptcy Resources (IA St. U. Center for Ag Law &
Bankruptcy: Current Issues (IA St. U. Center for Agricultural Law & Taxation)
Bankruptcy Cases (IA St. U. Center for Agricultural Law & Taxation)
Bankruptcy (Cornell Legal Information Institute)
Bankruptcy (WI St. Law Library)
Chapter 12 Bankruptcy for the Family Farmer (SC Bar)


Ag Bankruptcy Spotlight: Chapter 12 Considerations and Basics (Williams, 2019)