The U.S. Department of Agriculture has filed an administrative complaint against sweet potato company Southern Produce Distributors, Faison, N.C., alleging the company failed to pay $3.49 million to produce sellers.
The USDA filed the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act complaint after the company failed to pay 34 produce sellers from April 2017 to June 2018. Southern Produce Distributors declared bankruptcy in 2018, but emerged from restructuring.
The USDA announced the PACA action June 20, the same day it issued a news release on another North Carolina sweet potato company, Wayne Bailey Produce (and Wayne Bailey Inc.), saying the companies owed creditors more than $8.1 million.
Growers in North Carolina and other southern states saw significant fall crop losses when Hurricane Florence damaged production, followed by Hurricane Michael.
Southern Produce Distributors can request a hearing to contest the PACA action, but if the USDA confirms the PACA allegations, the company’s principals could be barred from doing business with PACA licensees for up to 3 years.