JWV Pork, a well-established four-generation hog farm based in Washington, Iowa, is facing financial distress, defaulting on over $38.8 million of debt, as revealed in court records. The company, a major player in Iowa’s pork industry, has experienced significant success under the co-ownership of Jerome and Heidi Vittetoe since the early ’80s.
According to legal documents filed in the Iowa District Court in Linn County, JWV Pork failed to make timely payments on loans from Farm Credit Services dating between 2016 and 2022. This default has resulted in a total outstanding indebtedness of $38.8 million for JWV Pork, JWV Milling, Savanna Pork, Vittetoe Enterprises, and J & H Legacy Farms, as of August 10.
The court petition requested an expedited hearing, expressing concerns about the rapid depletion of JWV Pork’s liquidity, posing a threat to the lender’s rights and collateral. The collateral includes the entire spectrum of the pork producer’s assets, from inventory and goods to equipment and real estate.
In response, JWV Pork’s owners acknowledged the defaulted loans and collateral but expressed a lack of information regarding the lender’s ability to manage assets if a receiver takes over. The case has been moved to the Iowa Business Specialty Court, with Focus Management Group appointed as the recipient of JWV Pork’s collateral. This Chicago-based financial adviser specializes in corporate turnaround and restructuring.
The financial challenges faced by JWV Pork have reverberations beyond the business realm, impacting the community of Washington. The company, known for its civic engagement and contributions, employs over 80 people and actively supports local events and charitable causes. The news comes at a time when the pork industry, in general, is grappling with increased production costs, leading to losses for producers and potential exits from the industry.