GREENWOOD, Miss. -- At the time it filed for bankruptcy in late September, Express Grain Terminals LLC owed more than $40 million to more than 200 farmers, according to a document filed this week in a federal court.
In addition, more than half of those owed money have filed demands so far to recover the crops that they delivered to the Leflore County company that operates grain storage facilities as well as a soybean processing plant.
The documents, called 557 and grain reports, were filed Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. They are a required part of Express Grain’s ongoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Click here for 557 Report Click here for Grain Report
There are 205 accounts listed as being owed money for corn and soybeans delivered to Express Grain. The amounts range from hundreds of dollars to millions of dollars.
Porter Planting Co. of Greenwood is listed as being owed the most, $2.25 million. John Doty Porter, one of the farm’s owners, did not respond to phone calls Thursday requesting comment.
Porter Planting Co. is one of three named plaintiffs in a federal class-action lawsuit filed earlier this month against UMB Bank, which holds most of Express Grain’s assets as collateral.
The suit, which is one side of a legal argument, alleges the Kansas City, Missouri, bank knew Express Grain was insolvent last spring but waited to take action until harvest season, when Express Grain would be holding the most grain, so the bank could seize the grain as collateral. Express Grain is excluded from the lawsuit because it is in bankruptcy.
Express Grain, however, says in its 557 report that UMB Bank is not the only creditor asserting a claim against the grain or its proceeds. Eleven other companies are listed, mostly financial institutions, including Greenwood-based Bank of Commerce and Staple Cotton Discount Corporation, the lending arm of cotton cooperative Staplcotn.
In all, six farming operations were owed at least $1 million at the time of the bankruptcy filing. In addition to Porter Planting Co., the others are Osborn Farms ($2.19 million); Buck Harris Planting Co. ($2.07 million); Ashley Selman Farms Partnership ($1.98 million); Dodson Planting Co. ($1.62 million); and Prestidge Farms II ($1.45 million).
John Coleman, the president of Express Grain, has said he is working with a large equity investor to recapitalize the company and pay all of the farmers. He has said he is hopeful the restructuring plan could come together by the end of this year.
Express Grain has until Nov. 24 to provide additional documentation to the bankruptcy court to support the 557 report, including receipts, contracts and communications related to it. Farmers wanting to dispute the accuracy of the report must do so by Dec. 3 with supporting documentation.
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