Tobacco

U.S. Tobacco Cooperative Emerges From Bankruptcy

Court approves reorganization plan, company settles class-action lawsuit
U.S. tobacco cooperative
Logo: U.S. Tobacco Cooperative

RALEIGH, N.C. — U.S. Tobacco Cooperative Inc. (USTC) exited bankruptcy on July 14, pursuant to the federal Bankruptcy Court’s approval of the tobacco processor’s Chapter 11 plan of reorganization, along with approval of the settlement terms of the Lewis class-action lawsuit.

USTC originally filed for bankruptcy protection in July 2021 in order to meet contractual obligations to its member growers while the company addressed uncertainty presented by the ongoing lawsuit.

“Today’s exit from bankruptcy marks the end of more than 17 years of class-action lawsuits following the termination of the federal price support program that ran from 1946 to 2005,” said Oscar House, CEO of USTC. “Our exit allows us to now focus solely on the services and products our cooperative is known for. I want to thank our customers, employees, suppliers, board of directors and especially our member growers for their continual support throughout the bankruptcy proceedings, which are now officially behind us.”

In accordance with the plan, the cooperative pays in full its secured lenders, suppliers and unsecured creditors in addition to settlement amounts to the Lewis class.

“We are energized,” said House. “Our business is robust with our farmer members contracting for this fall’s harvest, customers ordering our products and shipments processing daily. With our experienced management team, dedicated employees and our strong market position, the cooperative is poised for a successful future.”

USTC is a grower-owned marketing cooperative based in Raleigh, N.C. The ccooperative processes U.S. flue-cured tobacco grown by its more than 500 member-growers in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia. Member-grower tobacco is processed and sold as raw materials to cigarette manufacturers worldwide. Subsidiaries of USTC include U.S. Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers, Premier Manufacturing, Franchise Wholesale (dba Wildhorse Distributing), Big South Distribution and King Maker Marketing. USTC, through its subsidiaries, also produces consumer products for  the U.S. market under the brand names of Wildhorse, 1839, Manitou, Shield, 1st Class, Ultra Buy and Traffic.

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