Farmers could lose big from Express Grain bankruptcy
Express Grain Terminals, a family-owned Greenwood business, filed for bankruptcy on September 30, leaving many Delta farmers, at least for now, empty-handed for the crops they’ve worked through all season.
The company, founded in 2007, estimated its assets and debts in the range of $ 50 million to $ 100 million.
Express Grain can still operate under Chapter 11 bankruptcy while developing a reorganization plan.
Creditors are often paid over time under Chapter 11, but sometimes for amounts less than what was owed at the time of bankruptcy.
Some local farmers say they are told they will be the last to get paid if they get paid.
In an article previously published in the Greenwood Commonwealth, John Coleman, the chairman of the company, said in a statement that Express Grain had filed for bankruptcy in order to “reorganize its business and continue its activities normally”.
He declined to elaborate further, the newspaper said.
Coleman, originally from Greenwood, has an engineering degree from Vanderbilt and previously worked for Dell Computer as a programmer in Austin, Texas.
Express Grain operates grain elevators in Greenwood, Sidon and Minter City. In recent years, the company has invested $ 3 million in the production of biodiesel, using much of the soybean oil it processes as a feedstock for the alternative fuel, according to the Commonwealth.
Sunflower County farmer Strider McCrory brought part of his harvest to Express Grain. Now he says he could lose all that money.
“This was about the fourth crop that I have done business with them,” McCrory said. “They took Chapter 11 originally and said they did it so they could pay the farmers first.”
According to McCrory, he was told the farmers are unsecured creditors in the case and may not receive any payments.
Two public meetings were held regarding the situation.
The first was organized by bankruptcy lawyers who sought to represent local farmers and try to explain the process.
A second meeting was held last Monday at the Pillow Academy and hosted by CR3, a national recovery and performance improvement company. They were brought in to help Express Grain through the bankruptcy process.
Enterprise-Tocsin was not present, but those who were told us that approximately 75 farmers attended the meeting.
Farmers are used to timing the market, finding ways to cooperate with Mother Nature, and trying to break even to start all over the next season.
But when the prices have been settled and the grain has been delivered, it is normally time to take a breather.
McCrory admits he was upset by the situation.
“It’s been a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of worry without my fault,” he said. “I worked more acreage and had fewer workers because of COVID and had a really good harvest, and market prices were good, and we had the carpet under us on this deal. I have enough harvest in the other place where I will pay and be able to live and cultivate again next year. But there are others who will not. There are farmers who have made 100 percent of their harvest there and they have not yet received a penny. It can bankrupt them. For the most part, that’s all they know, and it’s been their life. It’ll get them out of this life.
According to the Commonwealth, Coleman previously told the newspaper that Express Grain employs around 180 people, two-thirds of whom work in Greenwood.
At that time, the plant was processing approximately 25,000 gallons of soybean oil per day. It also processes soy products, such as flour and cockles for animal feed, which are the offspring after the seeds are crushed for their oil, according to the article.
The case falls under the jurisdiction of former Indianola resident Selene Dunn Maddox of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Mississippi.
She began practicing law in the late 1980s after graduating from Delta State University and Ole Miss. Maddox practiced bankruptcy law in Jackson and Greenwood before opening his private practice in Tupelo in 1991.
An email was sent to Coleman’s attorney Craig Geno at Ridgeland. There has been no response from him at press time.
Contact Mark Stowers at [email protected] or 248.298.9444.