ST. THOMAS, N.D. - One of North Dakota's largest high-value crop farms has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Fargo.
McM, Inc., based in St. Thomas, N.D., north of Grand Forks, on Feb. 10 filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy. The farm is one of the largest farms of high-value specialty crops in the region, including about 39,000 acres, with about 2,000 acres of sugar beets and about 4,200 acres of non-irrigated potatoes in 2016.
President Ron McMartin Jr., 50, lives in Grand Forks. On Nov. 14, McMartin - a large producer of red potatoes and once the largest sugar beet producer in the region - was the subject of a cover story in Agweek magazine and on AgweekTV in which he indicated he was simply down-scaling his operation and had no plans to exit the field. McMartin didn't immediately return phone messages left with him and with colleagues. His attorney, Jon R. Brakke, declined comment.
McMartin had farmed up to 59,000 acres in 2012 and at one time was the No. 1 sugar beet farmer in the region with a total of 11,000 acres. He also raises dry beans, corn, soybeans and spring wheat. In November, he said the farm had grossed about $35 million in crops, which was down from a peak of $45 million in crops during the high commodity prices about five years ago.
McMartin grew his farm in the 1990s when farmers ran into problems with fusarium head blight in wheat and some sought to expand into sugar beets and other crops. Other acres came to him when sugar beet producers near the Red River shifted their acres to him in joint ventures in the late 1990s during flood times. Since 2003, McMartin had shifted away from beets and into red table stock potatoes. In 2007, he also rented 5,000 acres of land in the Kindred, N.D., area that became available in a land rental auction. The company recently had shifted its beet acres to a farm centered in the Grand Forks area, where he grew about 2,000 acres of beets, which is not a large figure.
McMartin in late October interviews was upbeat about the future of the farm but alarmed at what he said were incorrect rumors about his demise in farming.
Weather conditions were horrible in the northern Red River Valley in 2016, and McMartin said returns for sugar beets were poor but returns for some other crops were better than he'd expected.
"We're trying to do what every farmer in the Red River Valley is trying to do: trying to make sense with a very challenging time," he said. "We're changing crop mix, land base, input resources, changing everything we can to make things perform better," he said. "Whether we're going to have success, I can't say, but all I can do is try."
The initial bankruptcy filing indicates there are fewer than 50 creditors, estimated assets of less than $50,000 and liabilities of $500,000 to $1 million, but it is a partial filing. In its filing, McM Inc., indicated it owns property that needs immediate attention. The filing indicated the company has non-insured cattle located in the rural Inkster, N.D., area and potato seed in the Crystal, N.D., area. More detailed filings - likely involving more dollars - are expected by early to mid-March, according to typical bankruptcy schedules.
Others in financial and legal positions in the region declined to comment publicly, as did landowners who may be affected by the filing.
Among the lenders and suppliers copied on the filing were
Agassiz Drain Tile, Buxton, N.D.; Agri Financial Services, Inc., Louisville, Ky.; Airgas USA, LLC, Independence, Ohio; BMO Harris Bank, Carol Stream, Ill.; Choice Financial, Walhalla, N.D.; CNH Capital, Phoenix, Ariz.; CNH Capital-America, LLC, Philadelphia, Pa., Crop Production Services, Grand Forks, N.D.; Deere & Company, Moline, Ill.; Deere Credit, Inc., Carol Stream, Ill; Eide Bailly, Fargo; Farm Credit Leasing Co., Minneapolis, Ford Credit Detroit, Detroit, Mich.; General Equipment and Supplies, Fargo, GW & Sons, Construction, Inc.; Hansons Auto & Implement, Inc., Grafton, N.D.; Ironhide Equipment Co., Grand Forks; Johnson Potato Company Inc., Walhalla, N.D.; Kenny Johnson, Walhalla, N.D.; Kinetic Leasing, Fargo, N.D.; Mack Financial Services, Philadelphia, Pa.; Merchant Bank Equipment, Minneapolis, Minn.; Merchants Capital Resources Inc., Winona, Minn.; Metlife Insurance Co., Fargo, N.D.; Midway Seed, Cavalier, N.D.; MW Cornheads, Inc., Hillsboro, N.D.; Narloch Trucking LLP, Grand Forks, N.D.; Nationwide Agribusiness, Des Moines, Iowa; North Valley Equipment, Grafton, N.D.; Northdale Oil, East Grand Forks, N.D.; Pro Ag Equipment Grand Forks, N.D.; RCIS Rural Community Insurance Service, Anoka, Minn.; Reliable Door & Supply, LLC, Grand Forks, N.D.; Stone's Mobile Radio, Inc., Grand Forks, N.D.; T.E. O'Toole Farm Seed, Crystal, N.D.; Thomson and Sons, Inc., Grafton, N.D.; Trinity Trailers Mfg., Inc., Boise, Idaho; Wells Fargo Credit, Carol Steam, Ill.; and Wilbur-Ellis Company LLC, Dallas, Texas.