One of North Dakota's Largest Farms Declares Bankruptcy

With American farm income forecast to drop for a fourth straight year, one of North Dakota’s largest high-value crop farms has declared bankruptcy.

McMartin Farms (McM Inc), headquartered just 30 miles south of the Canada-U.S border at St. Thomas, voluntarily filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Fargo on February 10.

McM Inc. was one of the largest sugar beet, potato and dry bean growing operations in the region, employing more than 50 full-time staff and 100 seasonal employees.

In 2016, McMartin farmed about 39,000 acres, including 2,000 acres of sugar beets and more than 4,000 acres of potatoes, according reporting by Mikkel Pates in Agweek magazine (follow link for more details). That was down from 59,000 acres in 2012.

There had been speculation about the state of McM’s books last year, which led Agweek to feature the farm’s president Ron McMartin Jr. in a cover story in which he said they were “trying to do what every farmer in the Red River Valley is trying to do: trying to make sense with a very challenging time.”

The first meeting of creditors is scheduled for March 16 in Grand Forks.

With farm sizes growing in Canada and the U.S., bigger is often thought to be better, but farm profitability evidently goes well beyond the acreage number. Follow the link below to listen to RealAgriculture’s Lyndsey Smith and Shaun Haney discuss the future of “mega-farms” and what makes a farm viable, following the financial demise of massive Saskatchewan farming operation Broadacre in 2014:

Related: Is the Mega-Farm Model Fatally Flawed?

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