Raleigh, North Carolina-based U.S. Tobacco Cooperative (USTC) has filed for federal Chapter 11 protection in the eastern district of North Carolina. According to reporting from the Winston-Salem Journal, U.S. Tobacco Cooperative has listed between $100 million to $500 million in both assets and liabilities and between 50 and 99 creditors. In a press release, the company stated that the reason for the filing was to meet short-term contractual obligations to member-growers during the 2021 crop season. The filing also will force the company to reorganize for the future.
Oscar J. House, CEO and president of the U.S. Tobacco Cooperative, issued the following statement: “This filing provides us the best way possible to meet our short-term obligations and plan for the future. In no way does this action reflect on the health of the organization and its ability to continue operations well into the future. In fact, this action is in response to the uncertainty presented by the ongoing class action litigation brought against us in 2005. Rest assured that our obligations to our member-growers, employees, suppliers and customers have always been and will continue to be our highest priority and concern.”
U.S. Tobacco Cooperative produces U.S. flue-cured tobacco grown by over 500 member growers in the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The filing involves U.S. Tobacco Cooperative subsidiaries including U.S. Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers, Inc., Premier Manufacturing, Inc., King Maker Marketing, Inc., Big South Distribution, LLC, and Franchise Wholesale Co., LLC. Some of the consumer tobacco products produced by U.S. Tobacco Cooperative include 1839, 1st Class, Ultra Buy, Wildhorse, Shield, Traffic, Manitou and Belmore, a premium cigar product. Combined, these companies span 13 U.S. locations and employ over 200 employees.