Livestock: Washington Ranch Sale Delayed – DTN

    The final sale of Easterday Ranches Inc. in southeastern Washington to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon Church) likely will be completed by sometime in August.

    Attorneys for the ranch, owned by Mesa, Washington, rancher Cody Easterday, asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Eastern District of Washington to issue a temporary restraining order and injunction against the Rabo AgriFinance LLC.

    A motion was filed Monday to delay a hearing on that motion to Aug. 25. The motion was filed to prevent the creditor from collecting on nearly $1.1 million owed it by Easterday on a parcel of land that is not part of the sale.

    Also this week, the court issued a sale order to approve Farmland Reserve’s $209 million bid for most of the Easterday properties.

    The ranch filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is selling its assets. The creditor is the final holdout in an agreement reached between Easterday and its largest creditors.

    Rabobank is the loan debtor in the ongoing bankruptcy case that has not consented to a court-approved cooperative agreement between Easterday and its creditors.

    Without an injunction, Easterday’s attorneys argued in a court filing, the sale and relief to creditors would be in jeopardy.

    A group of six debtors and Easterday negotiated a court-approved cooperation agreement to sell the assets for the highest-possible value.

    Five debtors consenting to the agreement are owed about $145 million by Easterday, according to court records. Those debtors include Washington Trust Bank, Tyson Fresh Meats Inc., Prudential Insurance Company of America, Deere and Company and CHS Capital LLC.

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    A company connected to the church was the winning bidder for the assets of southeast Washington rancher Easterday, according to court documents filed in federal bankruptcy court. The second-highest bidder was an investment company tied to Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

    According to court documents, Farmland Reserve was awarded the winning bid of $209 million for the Easterday assets.

    Back in April, Mesa, Washington, rancher Easterday pleaded guilty to wire fraud for defrauding Tyson Foods and another unnamed company $244 million in costs for buying and feeding hundreds of thousands of cattle that didn’t exist. Easterday, 49, faces up to 20 years in prison.

    The criminal case and connected Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Easterday Ranches Inc. and Easterday Farms could lead to the liquidation of an extensive family farm operation in eastern Washington involved in cattle feeding, as well as having 22,500 acres of potatoes, onions, corn and wheat in the Columbia Basin.

    Read more DTN coverage here:

    • “Winning Bid on Easterday Assets: $209M” here
    • “WA Rancher Admits ‘Ghost-Cattle’ Scam” here

    Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

    Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley

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