Phantom Farmers: Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code

15 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2005

See all articles by Katherine M. Porter

Katherine M. Porter

University of California - Irvine School of Law


In the heated debate surrounding the recent reforms to America's bankruptcy laws, Congress' decision to make Chapter 12 (a specialized type of bankruptcy relief available only to farmers) a permanent part of the Bankruptcy Code was widely heralded as a positive step for rural Americans. However, empirical evidence shows that very few farmers actually use Chapter 12 and that bankruptcy relief has not and cannot halt the decline in family farming. A vast majority of rural Americans are not farmers and will not be helped by Chapter 12. Instead, these families will face increased hurdles to filing for bankruptcy relief under the recent reforms to the generally applicable consumer bankruptcy laws. This Article analyzes the amendments to Chapter 12 and argues that America's rural families remain vulnerable to financial failure as policymakers continue to conflate the agricultural and rural economies.

Keywords: bankruptcy, agriculture, farming, rural

JEL Classification: K29, O13, Q10, Q14, R11

Suggested Citation

Porter, Katherine M., Phantom Farmers: Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code. American Bankruptcy Law Journal, Vol. 79, p. 727, 2005; U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-21. Available at SSRN:

Katherine M. Porter (Contact Author)

University of California - Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

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