SPOKANE — A Salt Lake City-based investment company with ties to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is bidding $209 million for more than 33,000 acres of land belonging to bankrupt Easterday Farms and Easterday Ranches.
In court documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Spokane, Farmland Reserve submitted the highest bid for the land and water rights — all of which is located in Benton County — during the court auction on June 15.
The second highest bid of $208 million was from 100C LLC, a Delaware-based company founded in 2018 that was linked to Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates in a previous farm sale.
According to the documents, the sale will not be final until Judge Whitman Holt reviews and approves it at a hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. July 14 at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Yakima.
In late May, lawyers representing the Easterday companies announced Farmland Reserve intended to place a “stalking horse bid” — a minimum bid on the entire estate of the two Easterday companies — of $188 million for the land and water rights to ensure their sale.
Both Easterday Farms and Easterday Ranches filed for bankruptcy in early February after it was revealed Cody Easterday, son of founder Gale, who died in an auto accident in early December 2020, had defrauded Tyson Fresh Meats and one other small meat processor of more than $244 million from 2016 to 2020, after losing more than $200 million speculating on cattle and corn futures beginning in 2011.
To cover those losses, Easterday billed Tyson Fresh Meats for the care and feeding of more than 260,000 head of cattle that did not exist.
At the end of March, Easterday pleaded guilty in federal criminal court in Spokane to wire fraud in relation to emails he sent to Tyson Fresh Meats and to false cattle-inventory information he sent to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2018 and 2019 to increase his company’s trading limit.