Nordic Farms operator in Charlotte declares bankruptcy

Photo by Garrett Brown
Nordic Farms is a landmark on U.S. 7 in Charlotte

Correction: Michael R. LaClair, Sr., operator of the dairy farm at Nordic Farms in Charlotte, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court on Aug. 17. The filing is for LaClair’s business, M & C Family Farm, and it does not involve the farm’s owner, Clark Hinsdale III, or his company, Nordic Holsteins. A headline in The Citizen Sept. 14 was incorrect

Known as one of Vermont’s most prominent dairy farms, the future of Nordic Farm’s dairy enterprise in Charlotte is uncertain as Michael LaClair filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy Aug. 17.

LaClair, who owns the cattle and machinery but not the farm property, listed $2.1 million in debts and assets just below $1 million, according to the Aug. 17 bankruptcy filing.

A message associated with the phone number assigned to Nordic Farms Tuesday said the telephone “has been disconnected or is no longer in service.”

Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides for liquidation or the sale of a debtor’s nonexempt property and distribution of the proceeds to creditors. The cost to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $335, according to U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court in Burlington. LaClair is represented by Hinesburg attorney David W. Lynch.

Charlotte Town Administrator Dean Bloch said LaClair and local officials haven’t discussed the status of the farm. “Whenever any property is having a problem, it a matter of concern for Charlotte,” he said. “It’s a private, financial matter, unless there’s a problem paying taxes.”

According to Assistant Town Clerk Christina Booher, the farm is up to date on paying property taxes.

LaClair bought the dairy operation in 2014 from Clark Hinsdale III, who still owns the nearly 600-acre property. Hinsdale, who is owed $500,000 from LaClair, did not return a phone call seeking comment
for this story.

The largest debt on LaClair’s list is to the Vermont Economic Development Authority which loaned LaClair just under $1 million for the operation.

Four businesses are also owed a significant amount of money from Nordic Farms. Lely, a creator of robotic milking machines is owed about $85,000; Middlebury’s Bourdeau Bros. is listed as a creditor
for $26,000; Deere & Company, which crafts agricultural machines, is looking to collect on about $85,000; Poulin Grain, Inc. in Newport is out just under $50,000.

Nordic Farms made headlines when it became the first New England dairy farm to add robotic milking machines 13 years ago.

The filing notes the business is owned jointly with LaClair’s former wife. An array of other financial institutions could collect about $250,000 for items such as an automobile, a recreational vehicle,
agricultural equipment, and a mobile home.

The farm sits along U.S. Route 7 just south of Shelburne in a wide open spot with views of Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks to the west, and the Green Mountains to the east. With its bright red barns, Nordic Farms is a prominent landmark.

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