RALEIGH — Coharie Farms will sell its remaining hogs as it begins to shut down its operations in an emergency plan approved Tuesday by a federal bankruptcy judge.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge J. Rich Leonard approved the plan for the major hog producer, which owns 30,000 sows it uses for breeding.
Coharie, a Clinton-based company founded by former U.S. Sen. Lauch Faircloth, is the biggest North Carolina hog company to fall victim to two years of dwindling profits for the hog industry caused by a combination of high grain prices, a drop in pork prices and from the H1N1 flu outbreak, initially called swine flu.
U.S. health experts have said pork consumption has nothing to do with the flu, but several foreign countries, including China, banned U.S. pork imports.
Anne Faircloth, Lauch Faircloth's daughter, who owns three-quarters of the business, put in $8 million of her own money in the last six months in an attempt to save the company, according to court testimony from a consultant hired by Coharie.
The company employed 170 people in North Carolina and Indiana, but the bankruptcy is expected to have a ripple effect in the 11 Eastern North Carolina counties where it does business and has contracts with more than 100 hog and grain farmers.
The company will operate until its hogs are sold, estimated to take six months, according to Terri Gardner, a lawyer representing Coharie.